Is Free Streaming the Best Choice?

Live streaming church services has become a necessity. About 2 years ago, many churches weren’t in a position to have an existing media ministry with tons of equipment and the means to deliver quality broadcasts. So Facebook Live and YouTube Live became easy solutions that provided free streaming for churches, and it’s easy to see why.

They’re the two platforms most people immediately think of when it comes to streaming. They’ve been around a long time, and they’ve got a lot going for them:

YouTube Live

  • 2nd most visited website worldwide
  • Over 2 billion users each month
  • Live videos remain available as evergreen archives
  • Archived videos are searchable (since YT is owned by Google)

Facebook Live

  • 2.5 billion users
  • 64 billion FB Live videos watched daily
  • Videos are immediately available to all of your followers
  • Audiences can interact in real time

While those stats are impressive, for churches looking to get into live streaming, all you most likely care about is that they’re:

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Accessible to most people
  • Either one sounds like the perfect solution to live streaming a church service, right?

Eh…not exactly…

The Problems with YouTube and Facebook Live For Church Services

You may think you want to live stream church services on YouTube or Facebook, but it may not be the best choice overall. These platforms are definitely convenient for live streaming church services, but they’re not without some compromise.

1. They offer no support.

This is one of the most common complaints you’ll come across regarding any of the large social media platforms. It’s as if they have so many users generating so much revenue, it just isn’t a priority if you have a problem. If you encounter a technical issue 5 minutes before your service starts, you’re stuck.

2. They own your content.

That’s the trade you’re agreeing to by using their infrastructure to broadcast your messages. Unlike the content on your website, or the text of your sermons, whatever you put on Facebook or YouTube is ultimately under their control. If they decide to block it or take it down for whatever reason, they can. (But, then again, we probably can’t ever imagine a world where someone’s message would be canceled simply because another group disagrees with it or anything…can we?)

3. They’re often unreliable.

Your stream is one of the millions that they’re dealing with (remember the big numbers at the beginning?), and quality often suffers. These platforms are basically designed to feed our “need” to see what’s happening right now, which means that they prioritize quantity over quality. That’s why users may experience lags, buffering, or dropped feeds.

4. They control the ads.

Facebook and YouTube give you free access to their platforms in exchange for showing you a few commercials in space they’ve sold to advertisers. It’s how they’ve made the money to grow into two of the most valuable companies in the world. (Google/YouTube: #2 at $145.6B; Facebook: #6 at $49.7B). They don’t sell any products…you are the product!

There are a lot of advertisers shelling out big bucks for the attention of you and your congregation. By agreeing to live stream church services on YouTube and Facebook, your service could potentially appear next to advertising that you and your church don’t want to support.

5. The analytics are not accurate.

When watching TV, viewers may be on a channel for a few seconds only to decide the show is not what they want to see after all. Other viewers may get distracted while watching and never intend to actually watch the show that stays on the screen for those few seconds. On Facebook, those brief pauses are tracked as views under their “3-second video view” rule. In contrast, YouTube’s standard is reported to be “around 30 seconds,” although it’s not officially acknowledged like Facebook’s 3-second rule is.

6. They can shut down your account.

Facebook and YouTube will shut down your account if they perceive any copyright violations (check with your worship leader) or any other violation of their terms of service (of course, you’ve carefully read all of those before clicking “I Accept”, right?). If they lock you out, you will have zero access to any of your content. We’ve seen this happen and it isn’t pretty.

YouTube and Facebook are notorious for going after copyright violations. Their algorithms are designed to “listen” to all video content. If an infringement is detected (even harmlessly in the background!), your content could be locked out for days or weeks during a “frustrating appeals process [where you are] guilty until proven innocent.”

Why not use technology designed for ministry?

We are a company that has been serving ministry for over 20 years. Whether you are new to streaming video or a seasoned streamer, our features and plans have been crafted to meet your needs. Our automated technology makes streaming easy for your staff and volunteers, and our platform delivers the highest-quality interactive experience to your viewers — which is really what it’s all about.

Check out and let our seasoned staff help you with hands on support, even on Sundays!

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