As a church leader, you probably realize that online church is here to stay. The key decision is not if you live stream, but which of the many church live streaming companies you choose to partner with.
If you don’t provide an online church experience, you’ll significantly limit the scope of your reach. The fact is, members are unable to attend every weekend in person for various reasons, and there are people out there searching for hope and truth who need to hear your message.
In this blog post, we will look at nine fantastic options for church live streaming companies (plus a couple of free ones).
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Table of contents
- What is Church Live Streaming?
- What Are the Benefits of Church Live Streaming?
- The Pros and Cons of Paid Church Live Streaming Companies
- The Best Free Options for Church Live Streaming
- The Best Paid Options for Church Live Streaming
- Final Thoughts on Choosing a Church Live Streaming Company
What is Church Live Streaming?
Here’s a quick overview of what it means to “live stream” your services and why you would want to do so.
Church live streaming is the process of using the internet for a live, real-time broadcast of your church services. You can accomplish this using various devices, including computers, smartphones, and tablets.
Most services work through an encoder that takes the video and audio signal from your live event and converts it into a digital format that can be streamed over the internet. An encoder can be in either hardware or software form. An encoder helps ensure a high-quality viewing experience without lags or glitchy audio. (As you know, these problems will cause viewers to quickly click away.)
Live streaming is popular for conferences, concerts, and sporting events. Across the board, the option for virtual participation has become more common in peoples’ lives. Therefore, it only makes sense that churches and ministries would offer this option to spread the good news of the gospel.
What Are the Benefits of Church Live Streaming?
Although there are many reasons why you might want to consider live streaming your church services. Here are three of the top benefits:
1. Serving Your Virtual Audience
One of the most apparent benefits is reaching people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend your services. You may have people who live in different parts of the country or the world who want to participate in your church’s services. Your church may also have members who are homebound, temporarily sick, or in the hospital due to medical issues.
2. Building an Online Community
Live streaming can also help you build a community of people who might not be able to physically attend your church but want belonging and relationship. They can chat and interact with people in real-time with a live stream. Your church can also provide virtual prayer partners and welcome team volunteers to host the live stream church experience.
3. Reaching an Unchurched Audience
Finally, live streaming is a great way to reach people who don’t currently go to church. A live stream can help them view what they would experience in person, making a first-time visit more comfortable. There’s also a large pool of former church attenders who have disengaged. A 2020 Barna study found that one-third of practicing Christians stopped attending church altogether during the pandemic. A live stream service gives them the perfect opportunity to reengage.
The Pros and Cons of Paid Church Live Streaming Companies
Paid services do offer advantages over their free counterparts. The most obvious is that they’re more reliable. When you’re live streaming an essential event like a church service, you don’t want there to be interruptions for buffering or glitchy audio.
Paid services also offer more features and customization options. And if you plan on running ads or taking donations during your live stream, you’ll need to go with a paid service.
There are also a few disadvantages to using a paid live streaming company. The biggest is that they can be pretty expensive, especially if you’re just starting out. If you’re not on an unlimited data plan, you also have to be careful about going over your data limit.
Finally, some paid services require you to sign an annual contract, which can be a disadvantage if you decide to switch church live streaming companies later.
The Best Free Options for Church Live Streaming
When it comes to free church live streaming services, the main options are YouTube Live and Facebook Live. Both platforms are extremely popular and have advantages.
The biggest pro to using YouTube Live is that you’re likely to reach a larger audience since YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world (second only to Google). You can also run ads on your live stream to generate income.
Facebook Live is a great option if you’re looking to build a community around your live stream. With Facebook, people can like, share, and comment on your live stream in real-time. This makes it easy to interact with viewers and creates a sense of community.
That said, there are also a few disadvantages to using YouTube Live and Facebook Live. The biggest is that both platforms are known for being unreliable. This means that your live stream could unexpectedly go down in the middle of your service.
Another downside is that you’ll have to transition or rebuild your audience if you want to move to a different platform. This can be a hassle, especially if you’ve already built up a large following on YouTube or Facebook.
So, what’s the best church live streaming company? The answer is that it depends on your specific needs and budget. Smaller churches on a budget still have options when it comes to live streaming services.
The Best Paid Options for Church Live Streaming
If you’re looking for a reliable and feature-rich paid service, here are nine options for you. Remember, your church needs a strong website in order to have a great live streaming experience.
Resi is one of the most popular church live streaming companies. They offer many features, including HD quality, DVR, and compatibility with a wide range of devices. Resi gives the option to broadcast your church service streams to social media channels, your website, OTT apps (like Apple TV, Roku, etc.), and more.
Resi offers three ways to stream:
- Hardware encoders
- Software encoder: Resi ProPresenter stream
- Upload and automate: for pre-produced video files
Resi also offers a number of customization options, so you can make your live stream look and feel just like your regular service. Finally, Resi offers Resilient Streaming Protocol (RSP), the first live streaming technology to protect again interruption and disruption when streaming. Visit their website to get a pricing quote.
Haivision offers high-quality, professional-grade streaming services. In fact, Haivision won a Technology & Engineering Emmy Award for Excellence in IP Video Innovation.
Haivision offers specific “House of Worship” streaming information to allow churches to live stream service and publish videos to their social media, website, and online church platforms. Haivision also works to provide services for multi-campus locations with DVR time-delayed video distribution.
Like Haivision, Dacast is used by companies from a wide spectrum of industries, but also has resources specifically dedicated to churches.
Dacast includes an ad-free platform and unlimited viewership in all plans. You can customize the video player with your church’s branding and features and view advanced analytics to show you where your viewers are tuning in from. They also offer online payment tools with subscription options for monthly and annual donations. The downside is that this may not integrate with your current giving software and programs.
Dacast offers a free 14-day trial and Starter Plan at $39 per month. Event, Scale, and Custom plans offer additional features and support at a higher cost.
BoxCast promises automated technology that makes it easy for first-time and seasoned broadcasters alike to offer a high-quality video streaming experience.
Add-ons include automated live captioning, extended broadcast duration, multi-site player, and branded smart TV apps (for Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV).
BoxCast offers an Essential, Growth, and Experience plan ranging from $99 to $199 a month depending on the features and add-ons you’re looking for.
SermonCast is an excellent option at a reasonable price point and, as the name implies, is tailored specifically to churches. This company has been helping churches with podcasts, live stream, and online church since 2006.
Live stream plan features include ad-free video, smart HTML5 players, an online campus with an integrated video player and sermon notes, and an HD video player to embed on your church website or blog. You also get powerful analytics and the SermonCast Studio to help manage your sermon notes, videos, and audio.
SermonCast has plans for all sizes of churches which start at $29/month for video-on-demand and start at $49/month for live streaming.
ChurchStreaming.tv offers a 30-day free trial which we highly recommend you try before investing. The interface is customizable with options for sermon notes, prayer requests, and real-time chat.
Like most services, ChurchStreaming.tv allows you to stream to multiple destinations including YouTube, Facebook, Apple TV, RTMP feeds, your church website or app, and more. They also offer management tools like easy editing which allows you to include pre and post-roll and a built-in DVR for scrolling. Management tools also include a scheduling tool, post-live trimming, automated archive posting, and user analytics.
Overall, this service provides a robust variety of features and comes with a complimentary setup. Pricing ranges from the Basic Plan at $70 monthly and 10 hours of streaming to the Advanced Plan at $139 monthly with unlimited streaming.
We just covered ChurchStreaming.tv but this is not to be confused with the next service: StreamingChurch.tv. Also dedicated specifically to churches, StreamingChurch.tv boasts superior reliability and customer support seven days a week including Sunday mornings.
You can customize the platform and embed it into your church website or link to a customized live streaming campus. Streamingchurch.tv works with most popular encoders. The higher-level plans also include automatic service recording for your integrated media vault. You can also utilize “Who’s Attending” and private messaging features.
Another unique feature of this platform is automated follow-up emails. You can set up the system to automatically send emails o first-time or repeat guests.
StreamingChurch.tv also has a Streaming Church Remote app that allows you to start, record, and schedule live streams. Pricing ranges from $79 per month to $179 a month for a Platinum plan including all features.
Stream Shark covers all the basics such as streamlined workflows, an instant streaming archive, full privacy controls, and multistream integrations.
You can also view real-time stats, catch up with live DVR rewind, and embed chat directly within the video player or separately. Another feature of the chat is “unified social chat” which pulls all the live feeds into one single chat box for you to monitor.
The pricing is a little higher with SharkStream than the other options on the list. A Standard monthly plan is $199, the Team plan is $499, and the Business plan is $999. All come with a free trial so you can see if it’s worth the investment.
We’ll end the list with another ministry-specific church live streaming company: Sermon.net. Sermon.net is a non-profit ministry offering services at a low price point.
Features include live streaming and on-demand access for video and audio, live chat, and integrated Bible and sermon notes features. You can also set up your stream for instant podcast submission to iTunes, Spotify, and Google podcasts. In addition, you have the option of unlimited playlists (channels) for various ministries or campuses.
The Starter Church Media Plan is just $15 a month, but best for lower demand usage. The Growing Church plan is $30 a month, and the Outreach Church plan is $60 per month. Prices are based on annual payments. Just ensure you choose a plan with adequate bandwidth and storage for your church attendance as these plans are best for smaller churches and number of viewers.
Final Thoughts on Choosing a Church Live Streaming Company
So how do you select the best church live streaming company for YOU? Well, it depends on your priorities. We recommend you create a checklist to help you narrow down and rank your options.
Features you may want to include in your church streaming company checklist:
- Monthly budget
- Donation option or integration with giving software
- Live chat option
- Platform customization
- Preschedule live stream
- Embedding on website
- Sermon archive
- Real-time analytics
- Installation support
You should also consider the technical experience and capacity of your staff and volunteers. If a church live streaming company offers a plan with numerous features, but nobody understands how to use them or has the time to maintain them, then you may want to go with a simpler, lower-cost option.
Also, be sure to take advantage of free trials so you can fully test out the program to see if it’s a fit for you.
Hopefully, you can see from this list that there are many fantastic options for church live streaming companies. What’s more, the pricing is very affordable, especially when you consider the far-reaching impact and visibility you’ll have by spreading your message to an online audience.
Have you used any of these services, or have another that you love? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!