Live Streaming Platforms

Justin Czech   -  

This is a list of the best live streaming platforms as of October 2020. Note: each platform has a different target reach, and engagement metric. Consider different platforms for different targeted reach, and community growth / engagement. Example, NYI may target content to Twitch, or Instagram. Church service streaming usually is targeted to Facebook, Youtube, and Vimeo.

Technical Note: Most streaming platforms require a minimum of 4 Mbps upload speed. If your current connection is less than that, or just slightly above you may run into reliability issues with some of the free streaming platforms. In that case you can either: A.) Subscribe to a higher speed tier, and provide a dedicated bandwidth for your stream or B.) Invest in a paid encoder platform that provides stream redundancy and reliability by intentionally delaying the stream, or delivering it through a content delivery network (otherwise known as CDN). C.) Record your service/video and upload it later. You can use simulated live features (like FB Premiere) to publish the video as if it’s live. This was method was used by many churches at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic due to reliability issues with streaming platforms.

In this list you’ll find:

  • Free Streaming Platforms
  • Paid Streaming Platforms
  • Multi-Streaming Platforms

Final side note: Before you start pushing content out to any platform have some internal discussions within your ministry to uncover the objectives. Are you looking to engage the “unchurched”, or keep current members informed? What is your church’s target demographic — and no, “everyone” is not a valid answer.  Are you targeting young families, established families or perhaps empty nesters? Churches and their ministries should spend time examining their current internal culture, and looking at the immediate community where they are rooted. How are you currently servicing the needs of that local community? How are the relationships with community partners and organizations? What is the goal — and most importantly how are you measuring that goal. Streaming can be an important, and effective reach tool, but it should NOT be a substitute for bridge building.


Let’s get started…

Free Streaming Platforms

Free for both streamers and viewers.

Facebook Live

With 2.5 billion monthly active users and live videos receiving some of the best engagement on the platform, Facebook Live is a natural choice to send your live stream. While people do not usually consume content on Facebook the same way they do on other streaming platforms like YouTube or Netflix, I believe it is still a valuable marketing platform and a great way to get a ministry or your church in front of a large audience easily. Facebook’s demographic is increasingly aging, as younger generations abandon the platform.

Protocols Accepted: RTMPS

Formats Accepted: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps (4 Mbps max bitrate)

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YouTube Live

YouTube is THE best platform for search engine optimization (SEO). YouTube is the #1 most visited video platform and the #2 most visited website in the world, which makes it a no-brainer for SEO. It’s also easily searchable, and content viewing is couch friendly as a Youtube app can be found on just about any smart TV, Roku, Android TV, or Apple TV.

Protocols Accepted: RTMP

Formats Accepted: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 60 fps (51 Mbps max bitrate)

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While Twitch is widely recognized as a streaming platform for gamers, it can still be a great option for non-gamers as well. Riding on Amazon’s AWS infrastructure makes it a great alternative if you’re trying to diversify your destinations for redundancy and reliability. Build your Twitch audience by delivering engaging content to your youth, and millennial generation.

Protocols Accepted: RTMP

Formats Accepted: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps (6 Mbps max bitrate)

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Instagram (via Yellow Duck)

Instagram is also a great social medial marketing tool and has a large demographic that often can’t be reached on other platforms like Facebook. Similar to Facebook, shorter content works better but long-form streams can also capture people’s attention. Use content that personal, meaniful, and engaging to help build your audience and reach.

*Streaming from third-party utilities like Yellow Duck is not officially supported by Instagram’s terms of service. However, many large organizations have been using it successfully for quite a while with seemingly no consequences. However, I must recommend that you use it at your own risk.

Protocols Accepted: Instagram app or third party utilities only

Formats Accepted: 720 x 1280 (vertical 720p) at 30 fps recommended

Paid Streaming Platforms

Paid subscriptions required for streamers. Free for viewers.

Resi (Formerly Living As One)

Patented Resilient Streaming Protocol takes streaming quality and reliability to a whole new level.

Resi subscription plans include social (distribute to YouTube or Facebook), web streaming (embeddable player), and multisite (connect remote physical locations). A proprietary hardware encoder is required (starting at $1300) along with a subscription plan ($99/mo), which makes for a fully integrated and robust ecosystem that just works. Note: this system is not cheap, but considered bulletproof, and used with churches, and secular companies across the world. Resi is recommended when you’re looking at publishing content across multiple platforms, and stream reliability is key.

Protocols Accepted: *Resi Encoder Required

Formats Accepted: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 30 fps (Prism Encoders) or up to 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps (Ray Encoder)

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Boxcast is a well established company and offers a reliable infrastructure as well as great hardware encoders that make their platform robust and volunteer-friendly. Features like simulcasting (Facebook, YouTube, and Periscope), smart TV apps (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, and Chromecast), automated captioning, ticketed events, and even multisite players make Boxcast a quite capable option for churches that find themselves streaming to multiple platforms. Boxcast starts at $99/mo.

Protocols Accepted: RTMP

Formats Accepted: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 60 fps (Boxcaster Pro) or up to 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps (RTMP and Boxcaster)

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Vimeo purchased Livestream in 2017, giving them a well established streaming infrastructure to add to their already well established hosting platform. With Vimeo you can embed live streams on your website, multicast to platforms like Facebook/YouTube/Twitch, and use their Studio 6 software to add more production value. Vimeo is used by the General CoTN, and various ministries across the world because of its robust streaming solution, and archive / hosting capabilities. Vimeo subscription is $900 annual or $75/mo.

Protocols Accepted: RTMP or through Livestream Studio software

Formats Accepted: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps – recommended 5 Mbps max bitrate (live streams transcoded to 30 fps, but archives will remain in 60 fps)

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Multi-Streaming Platforms

These services distribute a single stream to multiple platforms or destinations. Also referred to as simulcasting and re-streaming services. Many churches / ministries can make use of these platforms to push their stream to two or more platforms at once (FB, and YT).


Using Akamai for their backend, Castr is a robust solution allowing churches to simulcast to 30 different platforms at once —  including Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Periscope, and more. In addition to offering simulcasting, it also offers live streaming and video hosting which provides an embeddable link for your website and other platforms. A two encoder input subscription is currently $14.99/mo

Protocols Accepted: RTMP, RTSP, HLS, and MPEG-TS

Formats Accepted: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps (6.5 Mbps max recommended bitrate)

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ReStream was one of the first players to offer simulcasting as a service. Since then, it has quickly grown to be a popular middle-man and has added many great features. ReStream offers a full software studio, live chat, and scheduler give you a solid platform that offers more than just multi-streaming. Starting price is $41mo

Protocols Accepted: RTMP

Formats Accepted: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 60 fps (15 Mbps max recommended bitrate)

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If you want to know more, or have specific questions, hit the support button below.