Here, we look at four platforms and software which allow you to do just that, suitable for broadcasting at home or in a church building. This is just a small selection of what's available, an internet search will bring up many more options - look at the features and try them out to find out which will work for you in your setting.
Each social media platform has the option to start live streaming video directly from a browser or app. Many churches have been going live for free in this way, and is ideal for shorter live videos - such as an update, prayer, sermon or announcement.
Longer videos, such as a whole service, which may want to include different elements, such as text on screen, speakers from different locations, sections of pre-recorded video or a logo, will require additional software to knit together before streaming live on social media.
Including elements like this has multiple benefits; it's more engaging to watch a longer video with different speakers, elements and sections; and importantly, it can help make your service more accessible by using large text on screen or providing BSL interpretation.
A good broadcast software will include features such as:
- Text over video
- Simple templates and layouts
- Easy scene changes and transitions
- Streaming to different social media networks at once
- Able to include speakers from different locations
- Integration with other tools such as ProPresenter or Zoom
Read our guide to get started with livestreaming here.
As mentioned above, these are just a few on offer and there are many more which churches have been using. Take the time to try them out for yourself.
Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), as the name suggests, is a Free and open source software for video recording and live streaming. Download the software to get started and stream to Facebook, YouTube and others. If you are familiar with video editing software, you'll find your way around easily and there are many useful how-to guides to get you started.
- One of the best features is it's free, allowing you to customise every aspect of the live stream including layout, branding and text overlays, without having to pay anything
- OBS allows you to stream to one social media platform at a time, or, use restream.io alongside OBS to stream to multiple platforms at once
- Integrate with Propresenter, making the transition to live streaming during a service from your building much easier
- Integrate your Zoom meeting in a live broadcast by downloading a plug in here
- One of the more technical pieces of streaming software to use, however, it has amazing capabilities, so if you have the time to learn, you’ll find this a brilliant addition to your weekly online services and events.
- Learn how to get started here.
Stream to all the major social media platforms from your laptop browser or your mobile device. Stream Yard runs in Chrome and Firefox, and there are no additional plug-ins to download.
- Streamyard is easy to get started for free, streaming to one platform with up to 6 participants in your live broadcast. Ideal for trying it out before you purchase!
- The basic package gives you quick scene layouts and custom branding, however the streamyard logo will be visible until you upgrade.
- Upgrading brings useful features such as removing Stream Yard branding, unlimited stream time per month, and adding your own text or graphical overlays.
- A big plus is the ability to use it from your mobile device. Just login in to Stream Yard from your mobile browser - useful for church buildings without internet access!
- Use the screen share function to include Zoom in your live broadcast.
- Learn more here.
Stage Ten is another browser based streaming platform which is intuitive and easy to use. The simple layouts and overlays make it easy to create interesting and professional broadcasts. The Digital Team used this platform to stream the Confirmation of Election of the Archbishop of York.
- Get started for free to stream to one platform, add text overlay and include pre-recorded and live video.
- The upgrade to pro will allow you to stream to multiple places at once (YouTube, Facebook, Websites all at once!) scheduling of live videos, and offers more layout options
- The scene layouts are easy to prepare and transitions are simple -
- Note, StageTen uses the Chrome browser only
- Easy to involve different presenters in your livestream with simple links
- Use the screen share function to include a Zoom meeting in your live broadcast.
- Take a look for yourself here.
Created by Life.Church, Church Online is a free video streaming platform created exclusively for churches. In reality, it's a bit more than a streaming platform, combining many of the features of a social media platform, alongside moderator tools, analytics and service scheduling, but without the distractions of a newsfeed and notifications.
- Create a channel for your church with a personalised URL and invite people to watch by sharing on your A Church Near You page, website, or social media profiles
- You’ll need to use a streaming provider alongside Church Online, such as the ones listed above. Alternatively, use pre-recorded videos from YouTube or Vimeo and schedule them as live-broadcasts
- Those watching can join in with live chat, make request prayer and speak to hosts
- Admins can create reoccurring services, use live chat, assign service hosts and use moderation tools.
- Take a look here.
Church Digital Champion