Altar Live has worked together with nearly a thousand churches in the past six months, and there are clearly preferred live streaming platforms in the space for your online church service. We take a look at each of them with an eye on what the best streaming service is for building your online community:
In each church, the members have their preferred platforms on which to watch: YouTube, Facebook, Altar Live, Church Online, and their own church’s website. Most would prefer not to fight against their congregant's preferences, so they would like to capture their service and stream it to as many destinations as are available. In addition, churches find the reach of social media to be an unprecedented means by which to reach new audiences who might otherwise never visit their church building (or any church building, for that matter).
Also, while many churches rely on free or low-cost video storage on Facebook and YouTube, many also prefer to have greater control over their content by saving recordings and hosting a sermon library.
2. Interaction and engagement:
Most livestream church services stream to a third-party destination, where engagement is bound by the platform (e.g., social media chat, Comments, Likes, Shares, emojis). Even so, some have additional engagement tools that may be of interest to churches looking to deepen the experience.
3. Church-specific features:
Livestream services often support a wide variety of industries, and may not have tweaked their platforms with any particular capabilities that only a church would appreciate. Some of them specialize in churches and have added specific features for your online ministry.
Every ministry counts heads or butts in the seats. Now that people are attending church services online, they count views. All churches have learned that a view doesn’t count for much; a view can last just a few seconds. Therefore, the more detail they can get from their livestream analytics, the better idea they have of how well they are reaching their audience.
According to the 95 Network, roughly 95% of American churches have fewer than 500 attendees. We look at the tiered pricing and packages of these live streaming services and church community builders and how well they support low-budget operations.
Distribution. Stream directly to Altar or via third party social media sites; stream to Altar and out to social media
Engagement. General chat, small group chat, personal 1:1 chat; small group videoconferencing
Church-specific features. Greeter-initiated chat with anonymous users; "fellowship" lobby for small group mingling; prayer table; Meet the Pastor table; links to giving apps.
Analytics. Views; average view time
- $69/month for up to 70 users
- $99/month for up to 150 users
- $149/month for up to 300 users
Distribution. Live broadcasting, video hosting services. Stream to social media platforms and to a player on your website.
Engagement. Live audience chat.
Church-specific features. Vimeo is easy to use. It can simulcast your live stream on a number of different social platforms or custom apps so your audience can tune in wherever they are. Plus, all streams are ad-free.
Analytics. Vimeo includes analytics and a video management platform.
- Vimeo Premium: $75/month, includes both live and VOD streaming services
- Vimeo Enterprise: Contact Vimeo for custom pricing information. Includes white-label service, monetization, and video APIs. There is alsp branding control and various security features.
- Vimeo OTT: Starter Pricing is at $1/subscriber/month and Growth Pricing starts at $500/month. This plan includes basics for a web-based OTT channel.
Distribution. Multiple concurrent streaming to social media sites and other destinations.
Engagement. Resi specializes in stream quality and performance, and does not add its own engagement features.
Church-specific features. Resi began with a different brand name, Living As One, which reflects its roots in the church community. It supports a broad base of church customers. There are no church-specific features.
Analytics. Views, unique viewers, average watch time, watch time, resolution, and a heat map of geo-location.
- Church and non-profit plans start at $99/month
Distribution. Multistreaming up to 30 destinations, including social media, Altar Live, and church website.
Engagement. Castr’s expertise is in streaming performance and reliability, and does not develop
Church-specific features. Castr specializes in supporting churches, along with offerings for education, sports, and gaming. There are no church-specific features.
Analytics. Castr integrates with Google Analytics to provide tracking and measurement.
- $50/month includes up to 5 destinations, and 2 concurrent streams for parallel events.
- $100/month includes up to 5 concurrent streams and additional bandwidth and video-on-demand storage
- $150/month includes up to 15 destinations, and additional bandwidth and video-on-demand storage
Distribution. Multistream to social media platforms.
Engagement. Chat, emojis.
Church-specific features. Restream is a broad, general purpose streaming platform. It does not have church-specific features for your online church service.
Analytics. View count, views by platform, top chatters.
- Free version unlimited use
- $19/month unlocks additional features (e.g., stream to Facebook public pages/groups)
- $49/month unlocks more features (e.g., remove Restream branding)
Distribution. Website embeds, sermon library and video-on-demand. Multi-stream to social media platforms.
Engagement. Text-based chat.
Church-specific features. Dacast serves a broad range of businesses, including large event venues. Churches looking for a solution for conferences and fundraising events will find Dacast's paywall feature attractive.
Analytics. views; number of hours watched; map/countries where viewers are watching from.
$39/month for baseline livestreaming
$63/month version is designed for events, unlocks real-time analytics, paywall
$188/month for enterprise support and enhanced video-on-demand features
Distribution. Stream to social media platforms and to a player on your website.
Engagement. Stream only.
Church-specific features. Boxcast acquired church-specific stream service provider Sunday Stream in October 2019, and maintains a focus on houses worship as one of its primary markets. While there are no church-specific features, there are general purpose features that are particularly useful for churches (e.g., document display)
Analytics. Number of views, breakdown by type of device, operating system, browser, geo-location.
- $149/month, includes simulated live (upload pre-recorded video and start at a specified time; document display for bulletin, sermon notes, song lyrics; one year of storage of video broadcasts
- $199/month, includes concurrent events (e.g., worship service same time as kids church); automated captioning
Distribution. Multiple destinations, including social media and your church’s website.
Engagement. Group chat, prayer requests. User-requested reminder notifications for upcoming services and events.
Church-specific features. As the name implies, ChurchStreaming specializes in the church market, and includes features such as sermon notes, scripture references, and prayer requests for your live streaming ministry.
Analytics. Number of views.
- $79/month includes 10 hours of streaming, 100 GB storage
- $99/month includes 20 hours of streaming, 200 GB storage
- $139/month unlimited streaming, 500 GB storage
Distribution. Multistream to your website and social media sites.
Engagement. Moderated chat, see who is attending, private chat with an individual
Church-specific features. StreamingChurch.tv has a wide array of features designed especially for churches: teaching notes, automated email followup to attendees, integrated YouVersion online bible, prayer request button for 1:1 chat-based prayer; dynamic content notifications (for giving links, connect cards, etc.). Church branding.
Analytics. Geolocation of viewers.
- $79/month for website embedded player, all church-specific tools.
- $127/month includes simulated live events; unlimited video on demand.
- $179/month includes support for Facebook, YouTube and Twitter; and church branding kit.
Distribution. Position themselves as a safe alternative to unwholesome content on social media, Single stream to your church website.
Engagement. Includes basic chat and emojis.
Church-specific features. FaithLife has an optional Giving button that uses its own online giving app.
Analytics. Number of views.
Cost. FaithLife’s pricing is based on streaming hours per month and by video storage size.
- $90/month for 10 hours or 100GB
- $125/month for 20 hours or 200GB
- $200/month for 50 hours or 500GB