While there are lots of great church events happening all the time, for many, especially us rural folk, it’s hard to get there to catch even a small proportion of them. But this is changing slowly as more and more often we are seeing people live stream church events. It used to be that this took some technical knowhow and a fair bit of money, but no more. Today, it’s simple for anyone to live stream church events using affordable technology, and easy to use services. In part 1 of Live Stream Church Worship Or Other Events I focused on picking a webcam for your broadcast. This time I’m taking a look at what service, or platform, you should consider using to live stream your church event.
A service or platform is the company you use when you live stream church events. LiveStream and Ustream are the two companies that show up the most when you search ‘Live Stream’ and ‘Live Stream Church’ and they are definitely the two biggest live streaming companies out there right now. Both are companies have been around for a while and have good products. Both also offer free and paid services for you to choose from. It’s here that we start to see some of the differences between the two. Not only are their pricing plans different, their free services are also reasonably different in what they offer. I’m going to focus on the differences in their free services since I’m assuming most readers will try that out first.
Free Live Stream Services
Ustream offers an add supported free HD service with limited archiving, while LiveStream’s free service also has limited archiving but is not add supported. The catch with the free LiveStream service is that users must login to watch. While for some this won’t really be an issue, it will definitely turn off others. So while it may seem great to not have to have ads present as you live stream church events, you may end up with a smaller audience since they have to sign up as a LiveStream user and login in order to watch.
There is also another option to live stream church events that, while a bit more complicated to get started with, offers a lot of possibilities to live stream church worship services or events for free. It’s Google+/YouTube. I’m sure most people are familiar with YouTube and many of you have likely heard of Google+ which is Google’s social network. If you’re worried your viewers will have to sign up for Google+ using this method, don’t be, the only person who has to sign up is the one doing the live streaming, they need a Google+ account.
Here’s how it works. As Google has begun integrating all their services together they’ve really expanded the practical uses of Google+, including Hangouts. Hangouts are a way for up to nine people to video chat together, just like Skype, only you can have multiple video streams without having to have a paid account. Sounds great you may be thinking, but I want to have more than nine people watching my event, plus you said people wouldn’t have to sign up. This is all true, that was a long aside. One of the added features of Hangouts is the ability to stream to YouTube, where you can also save and archive the event to watch later. It’s easy to set up, and you can either send people to your YouTube channel to watch, or embed the video in a web page on your church website. Once the recording is finished, it’s saved to your YouTube channel and if you embedded the live stream on a web page, it is automatically updated to show the recorded video.
While I’ve got to admit I’m a pretty big Google fan anyway, this is a pretty great service they offer, for free (at least for now). To me, this is probably the best service to live stream church events. Although I recognize that it is a bit more complicated than the other two services I mentioned earlier. If you’re willing to put a little bit more work into it (and really while a bit more complicated, Google does provide very clear and easy to follow instructions), you can live stream church worship services and events without advertisements and archive them to YouTube. What’s not to like?
So as I mentioned at the beginning, live streaming church events is not all that difficult. Once you have picked a webcam all you need to do is decide on a streaming service, LiveStream, Ustream, Google+/YouTube, or another one not mentioned here, and you’re on your way.
Do you think you can now live stream church events in your context? What else would you need to know to make it doable? If you already live stream church worship services or other events, is it a simple process? What service do you use?