Live Streaming for Churches: Here’s How One Church Broadcasts Services from Tablets to Televisions
June 15, 2021
Live streaming is gaining steam as businesses and nonprofit organizations alike are embracing this new way to connect with clients, supporters, and new audiences. One of the biggest markets accessing on-demand video content is churches. Live streaming is a big leap into technology that may be unfamiliar to some church staffers, so in today’s post, we share a church live streaming success story from our friends at King Street Church.
When COVID-19 disrupted in-person worship services around the world, most churches turned to live streaming to stay connected to their congregations. Social media services like Facebook and Instagram made “going live” seem easy enough; however, as churches waded into the weeds of weekly live streaming, many found the add-on live streaming functionality offered on social media sites to be unreliable.
As a result, churches turned to dedicated live streaming services offered by companies such as Resi to deliver their live content over the internet. But many churches still needed additional functionality and began looking for ways to make it easier for people to watch live church services on TV. Many live streaming services offer an add-on option for an “Over The Top” or OTT app to enable live streaming direct to TV through devices such as Roku and Apple TV.
For example, one of our clients, King Street Church, came to us for help building an OTT app that interacted with their live streaming service of choice, which in this case happened to be Resi. King Street needed more ways to make its services available to wider audiences in a variety of places. Our solution was to build a custom OTT app for King Street Church that delivers live streaming content via Resi to Roku and Apple TV devices, making it simple for church members to view services on TV.
This live streaming to Roku and Apple TV case study explains how King Street Church embraced and benefited from this emerging way to connect with more people online.
Part I: Background
More than 125 years ago King Street Church was founded in downtown Chambersburg, PA to reach the community with the Gospel. Over the years, the church has grown to five different worship services in two different venues: a sanctuary, and a multi-purpose room. Each week the church worships in a traditional and contemporary style.
King Street Church has a reputation for embracing new technologies to reach more people with their message. In the 1930s during Dr. Meadows pastoral leadership, the church had a unique opportunity to broadcast the service to the prison located across from the church. They figured out how to install the right equipment to enable broadcasting in this additional location.
Later the church added radio to their broadcast strategy. And while radio ministry was successful for many years, new opportunities emerged as people began moving away from traditional radio in favor of internet-based streaming services.
Part II: The Challenge
Realizing that radio’s popularity was diminishing, King Street Church leaders began to investigate new ways to meet changing audience demands. Live streaming emerged as a viable option for several reasons. Not only were more people choosing live streaming over traditional means of broadcasting, there were budgetary concerns to consider as well.
The church was paying over $6,000 a year for the one-hour weekly time slot for the radio broadcast. Additionally, King Street Church leaders realized that it was difficult to tell how many people were listening to the radio broadcast. Ultimately, the church made the decision to shift away from radio to live streaming.
Part III: Our Solution
Wanting to do more to meet people where they are, King Street Church began making plans to shift their strategy from radio to live streaming. In preparation, the church budgeted $1000 for one-time Roku devices to give out, covering the cost of up to fifty devices. Next they asked Cross & Crown to develop customized Roku and Apple TV OTT apps that brought together both live stream content and archive content straight to TV.
(Unfamiliar with OTT? Read our post: OTT 101: Everything You Need to Know to Stream Video Content to Roku and Apple TV)
For live streaming, King Street uses Resi, which made it easy to embed the livestream code into the OTT app Cross & Crown developed. When a viewer launches the app they can watch a livestream or the most recent service that was streamed. In addition, the user can watch archived and other content from ministries pulled in from Vimeo or YouTube. This additional content is organized by category and ministry.
Before making the switch from radio to live streaming, they started running ads during the radio broadcast informing the audience about the plan to switch over to live streaming. To aid the transition, King Street offered listeners a free Roku device, as well as, one-on-one assistance getting everything set up. During this time the church gave out approximately 20 Roku devices (at approximately $20-25 each, well under the $1000 budget) and helped many more set up their own devices with the new King Street OTT app.
Part IV: The Results
King Street Church successfully navigated the transition from radio broadcasting to television live streaming with great results. Currently, King Street has over 150+ Roku devices that view either the traditional or the contemporary worship service. Additionally, they have the freedom and flexibility to reach even more people in multiple settings, such as:
- Nursing Homes
- Prison Ministries
- College Campuses
- Those with health needs
- Rural and remote areas and other communities that cannot make it to church in person.
Other benefits of Roku and Apple TV apps include the ability to see in real-time how many people are watching each week, how long they are watching, and what type of content they are watching. The end users get a better experience as they can see and hear what is going on. Many of the homebound worshippers enjoy seeing their church and people they know when they tune in. The apps also allow people to watch or rewatch services whenever they want or can. With a radio broadcast, if a person missed the broadcast they missed it.
Even with the cost of the live streaming service, King Street Church experienced significant savings while gaining new opportunities to reach more people and providing a better user experience.
If you are interested in learning more about live streaming, developing apps for Roku and Apple TV, or have questions about integrating your current live streaming service into an OTT app, please get in touch with us today. We would love to help you discover more ways to reach larger audiences with your important messages!