Hide and seek is a fun game when you’re playing with your kids, but not when it comes to church live streaming services. Because when it comes to most live streaming providers, there are often hidden costs that you have to search for.
If you aren’t careful, you can end up wasting your congregation’s time and money. As a pastor or ministry leader who wants to be a good steward of the resources you’ve been trusted with, it pays to be aware of some things the “too good to be true” providers may be up to.
A Reminder About “Free” Providers:
In our last post, we covered “Why Facebook and YouTube Live Aren’t Your Church’s Best Live Streaming Options” in quite a bit of depth. Be sure to take a minute and read through that article if you haven’t already.
Most ministry leaders choose to live stream church services on one (or both) of those platforms to begin with simply because they’re convenient. However, a lot of churches quickly realize that they leave a lot to be desired. They may be “free” in a financial sense, but can cost you a lot in other areas:
- They offer no support.
- They own your content.
- They’re often unreliable.
- They control the ads.
- They can shut down your account.
In addition to the article above, we also discuss these things in a free (yes, really free) PDF we put together on “How to Choose the Best Live Streaming Partner for Your Church.” You can download your copy here.
Four Things To Watch Out for Before Choosing a Paid Live Streaming Partner for Your Church:
1. Bait & Switch
If you see unbelievably low-price offers, trust your instincts. Don’t believe them! When the rest of the market seems to be generally priced at one level and you come across a provider that advertises a price way below everyone else, there’s probably a catch.
Live streaming providers (even the ones like us who specialize live streaming for church services) aren’t in business to lose money. That would be irresponsible. If you encounter an incredibly low rate, that company is either not that good or they’re hiding the real costs from you.
Quality church live streaming doesn’t have to be expensive. But “good” and “cheap” hardly ever go together. At WSN, we are very intentional about setting our rates in a way that makes us competitive, keeping costs as low as possible, and making sure that we are completely transparent. With us, you never have to worry about hidden fees; and you’ll always get best in class streaming quality and always ready customer support.
2. Viewing Limits
Watch out for restrictions on how many hours your live stream can be viewed. If you exceed your assigned amount, the “low cost” provider might automatically bump you up to a higher-priced plan. The rate you signed up for may not be the rate you end up actually paying.
Similar to restrictions on viewing limits, if you broadcast too much they may raise your rates. (You could actually be punished for having your church services reach too many people!) Usually, the “bargain” rate will only allow for a small amount of bandwidth to begin with. Once you exceed that, your rates go up.
4. Expensive Add-ons
More than likely, you won’t find these high-priced extras mentioned on the main pages of most live streaming providers. For one thing, they can sound a little techy. (But don’t worry, it’s not that bad.) They also know that the sticker shock of what they’re planning to charge you for them will send you running, so they usually bury any information on overpriced add-ons deep within their websites.
Some extravagant extras include:
a. Storage Fees
With most companies, you’ll usually encounter limited space with your introductory data plan. As you exceed that storage in the future, you can expect higher costs—which is precisely what they’re expecting.
Our fixed fees are based on your average attendance, so you never have to worry about hidden overage charges.
b. OTT (Over The Top) Compatibility
This is commonly used as a positive benefit by many of the top live streaming providers. OTT describes any service that directly offers media content via the Internet. If you cancel your cable and watch TV through a company like Netflix, Roku, Amazon, or YouTube TV you’re using OTT technology. It’s hugely popular and has changed the way we consume our media.
Some live streaming companies offer OTT compatibility as a benefit on their websites. They’ll say something along the lines of “we make it possible for people to watch your event on their [insert company] app.”
What they don’t tell you, however, is that such service probably won’t be included in the basic package. You’ll either have to upgrade or add it à la carte.
WSN automatically lets you stream to any device that your members might want to watch your services on. At no extra charge. We make it possible for you to be seen anywhere. Anything else just sounds a little…ahem…“over the top” to us.
c. Multiple vs. Adaptive Feeds
Hang in there on this one. It seems complicated, but it isn’t.
There basically two ways to deliver a streaming signal: with a single adaptive feed or with multiple feeds.
With the adaptive feed, you start broadcasting and your signal goes out into the Internet at a resolution of 1080p. Your service provider then “adapts” it to three streams/quality levels: 480, 720, and 1080.
Since you may have members tuning in on a variety of devices and connections, it seems like it would be good to have several options. However, by splitting your feed up like that you are more likely to experience delays, skipping/buffering, and lower overall quality.
The result will be frustrated members tuning out and missing life-changing truth.
With multiple feeds, all three quality options are pushed out by the provider at the same time. End-users receive the best signal/quality that their connection can handle, and your content looks great no matter where they are or how they’re tuning in.
Since streaming multiple feeds simultaneously requires more power and effort on the part of the provider, most of our competitors (especially the “free” ones) usually only offer a single stream. (For example, YouTube streams at 1080, but FaceBook only streams at 720.) If what they’re sending doesn’t look good on your device…too bad.
A lot of fee-based providers charge more for adaptive feeds and don’t typically offer a multi-feed option at all.
That’s where WSN chooses to be different! All of our media is automatically delivered in multiple streams at the same time. That way your viewers get the best possible experience every single time…at no additional cost to you.
Live Streaming a Church Service Doesn’t Have to Get Expensive
You expect hidden fees on your phone bill or airline ticket. You shouldn’t have to worry about your live streaming provider taking advantage of you that way. We work hard to operate efficiently on our end so that we can include at no charge what the other guys charge extra for. We understand the importance of your mission, and we respect you enough to let you know up front what you can look forward to from us and exactly how much it costs.
Download our free PDF, “How to Choose the Best Live Streaming Partner for Your Church”, to learn more.
And when you’re ready to talk to our team, schedule a free discovery call. We’d love to help you reach more people!