By Andrew Ng
Christmas worship services. Pageants. Concerts. Even outreach efforts!
If you want to extend the reach of your Christmas events, then consider all the different ways video streaming can help.
Here, Andrew Ng, Director of Marketing at Irvine, CA-based Teradek, explains the ins and outs … in plain English.
Tip #1: Think outside the church walls — stream to multiple online platforms.
“Something a lot of churches are really interested in doing (and seeing a lot of better engagement with) is streaming to Facebook Live, online campuses, YouTube Live, Periscope — all kinds of social media,” Ng says. “Church tech ministers want to go to multiple platforms at the same time so the congregation can see the live stream, or whatever is going on in the service, wherever they might be.”
Facebook Live is, of course, viewable on smartphones and desktop. It promotes interactivity with a “live” comments feature, which basically acts as a chat function.
YouTube Live is another popular live streaming destination that is not only viewable on smartphones and desktop, but also can be accessed via your Roku or Apple TV devices at home. Periscope — a live streaming app specializing in mass reach via smartphone — is now able to receive camera signals from third-party streaming devices rather than limited to an iPhone or Android device. “This goes to show the variety of ways people are consuming content and how important it is for an organization to be able to reach all these destinations,” Ng points out. Fortunately, products like Teradek’s VidiU Pro, Cube and Core have now made that content much more accessible.
If streaming to multiple destinations and platforms seems like the way to go for your church, Teradek [ www.teradek.com ] offers a wide range of products to make it happen. As Ng explains, an encoder will be necessary. If your church doesn’t already have one, he says, the company’s Cube and VidiU Pro encoders are popular options.
There’s also the Live:Air app, which a church can easily mobilize. Whether you’re using Live:Air with an iPad or transmitting a camera or switcher feed using a Teradek encoder, a product called Core, a subscription-supported, cloud-based encoder management and routing platform allows organizations to take their streaming game to the next level. “The thing about Core is, even though a lot of big, professional broadcasts use it, it’s really simple to use,” Ng points out. “And that’s the whole point, really: it’s drag-and-drop.”
With this configuration in place, a church can stream content once and, using Teradek’s cloud service, distribute it everywhere it wants to.
Tip #2: Gather people together, wherever.
FIFA World Cup soccer fans are familiar with the power of being able to pipe the event into large gathering spaces — to giant screens in town squares across Europe. It builds fellowship.
This same technology can be mobilized for a church’s big holiday events. For his part, Ng recalls a yearly Mass piped into the town center while he was attending UC Irvine. “It felt very special and created a unique communal experience.”
In this vein, another idea came to Ng recently, after working with Jason Lee, Online Campus Pastor and IT Director of Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, IL. The church was conducting baptisms at a nearby lake, but it was able to send the live feed from the lake to the worship service, as well as to the online campus. A unique angle like this is great for a live audience as it has great potential for generating engagement and entertainment.
Outreach efforts at Christmastime are another great opportunity. If a group is working at a community kitchen, or any other local outreach, streaming that experience to the rest of the church — whether they’re in the worship center, online or gathered elsewhere — is only an Internet connection away.
International relief efforts (in Haiti, for instance) can also be shared from across the world, as long as the church group abroad has Web-enabled cellular service.
“As long as you have internet and destinations for delivery, whether it be mobile, TV sets, on the web, or all of the above, our products have a way to make it happen,” Ng says.
Tip #3: Consider new “perspectives” on streaming.
One emerging trend Ng is seeing in the streaming market — and would be great for churches — is the 360-degree broadcast. It allows you to capture a 360-degree view of an event, creating an extremely immersive experience. Ng explains:
“For example, the most popular streaming destination is YouTube 360. When you stream to YouTube Live, you can actually access it on your phone. And, if you have a Samsung Galaxy phone, with a Gear VR [virtual reality] wireless headset, you can put it on and just look around. It feels like you’re in the space.”
This requires a 360-degree live-streaming device, which Teradek offers in its Sphere family of products.
As an example of how this technology could be applied, Ng pictures a choir assembled around the camera. With this approach, viewers — using their phones — could feel like the choir is surrounding them, and they’re in the middle of the performance.
“It’s a new, experiential way of engaging the audience,” he adds. “A different kind of medium.”
Tip #4: Don’t forget to tell the church!
Of course, the most innovative live-streaming efforts in the world won’t mean much if church members don’t know they’re happening. To this point, consider developing the equivalent of a broadcast schedule for the holiday season. (“Like a TV Guide, essentially.”)
Even better, Ng encourages churches with apps to mobilize these mass-communication tools to spread the word. “Imagine if you were able to ping your audience and say, ‘Hey this event is going on right now!’” he says. “That’s super convenient, because it shows up on your phone.
“Your email is one thing,” he adds. “But, you’ve got to go to your computer, open your email, and then click the link. With an app, you’re just once click away to your live stream.”
Andrew Ng is Director of Marketing at Teradek in Irvine, CA.