Not all software is created equal. And just because one type of software works well for some, it might not be the right kind for others. This is why it's important for churches to choose the software that best suits their particular needs. It may sound simple enough, but sometimes the wide variety of choices makes it hard to find the best software.
If your church is thinking about doing live streaming in the future, or you are presently using one type of software because you think it's your only option, you need to be aware of just how many choices you have.
Because of the nature of live streaming (you don't want to suddenly lose your connection, and you need to ensure you have enough bandwidth so that it runs smoothly), it's extremely important to find reliable software.
So how do you go about doing that? In this post we'll be discussing things like knowing when it's time to invest in software as well as some of the must-have features of live streaming software. We'll also be comparing 9 different types of software to better help you find the one that meets the live streaming needs of your church.
Investing In Software
So your church does some live streaming and so far, using Facebook live has worked just fine.
But what happens when free services no longer meets the needs of your church? It might be time to invest in live streaming software. Here are some indicators that your church might be ready:
- Your church is growing
- You want to ensure you're able to reach everyone that can't attend the service (like those that are sick, disabled, or elderly)
- You want to use more than one streaming service
This last point is especially important because what happens when people want to watch your service online but they aren't on Facebook?
Another thing to remember is that even if you are using a free live stream service, in order to make your live video as professional and polished as possible, using your phone might not be such a good idea. This means you'll need to invest in good equipment, like a computer that is specifically used for streaming, an audio/video converter, and a good camera (or two or three).
If you're going to invest in live stream software, you'll need to know there are certain features you shouldn't go without. Some of the must-haves include:
- The ability to record while you're streaming
- The ability to send your live stream to multiple platforms at the same time
- The ability to switch between different video sources
- A live stream that fits your website’s design well
- A live stream that is optimized for streaming on mobile devices
Having these must-have features will allow you to stream top-notch live video that will enhance your brand while reaching a much wider audience.
9 Live Streaming Platforms
So now that you have decided your church absolutely needs to go live and you know what features are absolutely necessary, here is some of the most popular live streaming software available on the market.
Boasting 10,000 active users, some of Livestream's features include the ability to embed live stream to your custom web page and allow users to engage their viewers with real-time moderated chat. They also offer a consult with a dedicated expert, on-site training, and event monitoring. Their prices are $42/month for basic, $199/month for premium and $799/month for their enterprise package.
According to their website, Ustream does 2 million live broadcasts every month, including live video from the International space station. Some of their features include adding remote guests through video chat and the ability to switch cameras with just the click of a mouse. They also offer many resources on their website such as webinars, how-to-videos, and product sheets that can be downloaded for free. Their professional plans range from $99 to $999 and they offer a free 30-day trial.
As its name implies, this platform was designed specifically for churches and promises a pleasant live streaming experience. Some of their features include distributing your live stream to your website and social media platforms like Facebook and Vimeo, complimentary setup, and the ability to view live video on any device. There is no contract required with Church Streaming and they offer a free 30-day trial. Their unlimited streaming plan costs $139/month.
Another live streaming platform designed for churches and ministries, Lightcast Media strives to take the complexities out of live streaming and turn it into something that is easy to do. Some of their features include the ability to see real-time stats, including the location of the viewers, and upload and manage all your videos. They offer a free demo of their services and their prices range from $75/month for their starter plan to $1,200/month for premium. They also have yearly rates available.
A platform that aims to help you build your digital church, Piskel Faith streams live or on-demand content, including church services, special events, small group sessions, and worship services. Some of their features include having a 24/7 support team, product customization for ministries of any size, instant event stats, and DVR capabilities. Piskel Faith streams an average of 60,000 live events a year. They do not offer pricing information on their website.
Many platforms offer a lot of the same live streaming services, and Streaming Media Hosting is no different. This platform, however, is the only one that claims their specialty is live streaming. They also promise uninterrupted service on all devices without any pauses for buffering or surprise plug-ins. You can request a demo on their website, and while they have no pricing available on their website, they do offer a special non-profit plan for faith-based organizations.
As a family-run Christian business, this platform also specializes in offering live streaming for churches. They state on their website that they " look to the Bible for authoritative instruction" on how to live and conduct their business. Some of their features include phone, e-mail and screenshare support, mobile compatibility, adaptive bit rate streaming, and the ability to embed video on your church website. Sunday Streams offers a 30-day free trial, a 90-day unconditional money-back guarantee, and two different packages priced at $49/month and $79/month.
Similar to YouTube, Vimeo started off as a video-sharing site and were the first to support HD video. They now also offer live streaming services. Some of their features include broadcasting in full HD without any ads and the ability to customize your live video with your own colors and logo. They have a free demo and you can choose from three different plans ranging in price from $75/month to $800/month.
Meant to connect with followers and gain new ones, Facebook Live is also being used by many churches to live stream their services. One huge advantage of using this platform is that it is absolutely free. While Facebook Live can be an effective way to stream your church services, it should be noted that only people on Facebook will be able to access your live video. If you are new to live streaming, you may want to start here, and depending on your live streaming needs and goals, work your way up to another platform that allows you to reach a wider audience.