Video Streaming for Your Church: Your Most Frequent Questions Answered (Part One)
The Haivision House of Worship team travels all around the country not only to meet and check in on our customers but also to attend conferences and conventions, demonstrating the value and impact of video streaming to interested ministries. Along the way we’ve gathered some of the most common questions that we’re asked, and in this blog post, we’re starting out with some of the big ones! We asked Phil Gauthier, our resident media and ministry expert, to answer them.
A reminder: no question is too big or small – if you have a question about video streaming, please contact us, the team is always happy to help!
Q1. What kind of opportunity exists when streaming online?
The answer to this question can be found in how you identify your intended audience and what you are looking to accomplish with your messaging. For many ministries, the goal is to reach a different demographic, to create a connection through the presentation of the gospel while encouraging the viewer to visit the local church. The opportunity is to leverage digital platforms and media to reach people that wouldn’t otherwise be reached. And therein lies the beauty in using the Internet to deliver video messages.
An online pastor has a greater chance of engaging a viewer directly through a web page or mobile app as opposed to terrestrial broadcasts where you are hoping a viewer will call, visit your website, send you an email, or contact you via a social media channel. This direct one-to-one communication presents the ultimate opportunity for connection and engagement.
Q2. Will live streaming impact my local church attendance?
The short answer to this question is a resounding yes! Old school thinking suggests that offering live streaming will result in people opting to stay at home to watch church services therefore negatively impacting physical attendance. However, time and again it has been proven that the exact opposite is in fact the case, streaming your services can actually help make your physical services more popular.
Ministries and churches that employ a dynamic online strategy typically see increases in physical attendance and in fact, will more than likely expand into a multi-site church model due to their local and global footprint created by their digital video distribution. Recent research conducted by Vanderbloemen shows that:
- 59% of churches surveyed have seen physical growth since launching their online ministry
- 75% of churches reported that people attend online first, and then show up in person
- 89% of churches believe that online ministry will play an important role in the growth of the future of the church overall.
Q3. How much bandwidth do I need for live streaming?
Whether it’s live streaming a single service onto the church website or streaming services to multiple campuses, you’re going to need a relatively fast network and sufficient bandwidth. Live streaming a service involves taking the video feed and converting that video into data, then presenting it to viewers via a video player. To make this work, you’ll first need an internet connection (wired is better than wi-fi in this case).
There are many factors that can determine required bandwidth for live streaming including: video resolution to the encoder, encoder CPU or GPU capacity, as well as the viewing devices and habits of your target audience. Other factors include the number of destinations an organization intends to stream to. Typically upload bandwidth for 1080i going to an embedded online video player (OVP) and one or two social media sites averages somewhere between 10Mbps and 15Mbps.
Current best practices recommend that no more than half the available bandwidth present at the encoder be used for streaming. This allows for any network congestion, throttling, (the slowing of service by your internet service provider,) or bandwidth reduction due to wi-fi or other traffic.
Q4. What are the pros and cons of streaming to social media platforms?
There are distinct pros and cons to streaming on various social media platforms such as YouTube, and Facebook. When we talk to ministries, non-profits and other organizations about their overall online strategy we always include discussion around the best use of social media for their media distribution.
On the positive side, in addition to boosting your search engine optimization (SEO), streaming live and offering on-demand content on your social media channels will expand your reach to a much wider community. However, broadcasters do need to bear in mind the associated pitfalls. The most concrete issue is the rebroadcast of copyright material and the ability of social media company algorithms to detect and shut down a social media account for extended periods of time, should it uncover a copyright infraction. You can read more about copyright issues to keep in mind here.
Other factors that need to be considered in social media streaming are the many distractions as well as relative short viewing times reported by these platforms. When considering the way that comments and content is moderated on these platforms, we recommend using social media to drive online viewers to your web page, as opposed to hosting your content on a third-party platform.
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