Getting Started on Streaming: Begin By Building A Strategy

Before you commence ordering hardware and evaluating services, as a guiding principle, consider taking time to establish a streaming strategy for your deployment.

Getting Started on Streaming: Begin By Building A Strategy
While there are free options for encoding software for streaming, there are various paid options available that offer much better support and many more features, such as Telestream's Wirecast.
Getting Started on Streaming: Begin By Building A Strategy
While there are free options for encoding software for streaming, there are various paid options available that offer much better support and many more features, such as Telestream's Wirecast.

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The most important thing, though, is to recognize that cameras allow our worship services to reach beyond the four walls of the local church.

Budget and Scale

How many people do you expect to view your broadcast? Do you plan to leverage a free service, like Facebook Live, or will you be delivering content to a private endpoint, like your church website or Apple TV channel?

The economics of streaming should always be considered, both when it comes to the sunk cost of purchasing equipment or ongoing costs, should you choose to pay for a private content delivery network and invest in video engineering staff.

As you begin to develop your strategy, be sure to categorize initial and ongoing expenses.

To get started, you may need to purchase equipment, dedicate network resources, and establish an account with a streaming service. On an ongoing basis, you will need to think about who will produce the stream, each week. In the beginning, it will likely be easy to find volunteers to oversee the streaming operation. As time passes, you may find that staffing the function, if possible, will ensure that the service many will come to depend on, is always available.


It’s often assumed that the engineering who manages the technical elements of your streaming workflow, is solely responsible for the video stream.

When streaming to Facebook Live, and other interactive services, like Periscope and YouTube, be sure to have a person to host your stream, real-time, who can respond to questions and make people feel welcome. Don’t forget that while you overcome the technical challenges, as you go live, people will participate, and you want to be there for them, which does nothing but demonstrate that your ministry cares deeply for the people they contact, in-person or online.

Getting Started

With your strategy in-hand, getting started is the fun part.

For me, it never “gets old” to be able to generate live content in one location and enable people to view that content in another. Initially, it’s a good idea to setup a simple workflow that you can use as a learning platform, as you develop your skills and learn the challenges of your streaming configuration.

In my opinion, developing a video streaming program should be a “crawl-walk-run” process.

In getting started with a simple workflow, let’s consider some low-cost and free solutions. As an example, working with my new friend, “Bob,” I was able to get him streaming for less than $250, by taking inventory of his existing camera and computer equipment and directing his church to purchase only what was needed.

Here’s how our email exchange began:

Bob: “I want to start streaming. I have a camera. How do I start?”
Me: “Hi Bob. Thanks for reaching out. What sort of equipment do you have? Any ideas on your goals for your streaming project?”
Bob: “Facebook Live”

More About Tim Dougherty
Tim Dougherty is a Senior Solutions Engineer with Wowza Media Systems, based in Golden, Colo. A user technology expert, with more than 20 years of experience in IT, network administration, video production, and project/program management, Tim serves Wowza by helping customers visualize and integrate effective streaming media solutions.
Get in Touch:    More by Tim Dougherty

Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, March-April 2018
The March-April 2018 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers articles about how to prepare, prevent and respond to church violence, a look into what church management software can do for your church community, and a piece on how a once popular nightclub venue was transitioned to become Shoreline Church's new home.

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