How To Price Pay-Per-View Live Stream Events

How To Price Pay-Per-View Live Stream Events

You’ve decided that pay-per-view (PPV) live streaming is a good strategy for your organization, and that’s great—it means you have confidence in the value of your content and its ability to contribute to the bottom line. But pulling your PPV off successfully depends in large part on one thing: your price point.

How do you set event prices that maximize customer satisfaction and engagement, yet bring in enough money to make it all worthwhile? From experience I can tell you it’s not always easy, but it is absolutely possible.

4 Considerations For Accurately Pricing Your Pay-Per-View Live Stream   

To set an appropriate price for your live stream content you need to consider the following:

1. Who is your target audience?

Will those watching your PPV primarily be locals (i.e. people who would attend in person but can’t for a specific reason), or will your event have national appeal? Your anticipated audience plays into the amount you can charge.

  • If your event will attract mostly locals, your pricing should be equal to or cheaper than the actual event. You can’t reasonably charge more to watch a live stream than it costs to attend the event in person, or people simply won’t watch. Your PPV should be offered at somewhat of a discount to make it worthwhile for people to stay home vs. going. If your event is free, however, there will always be people who want to attend but can’t; in that case, a fair price—usually erring on the lower side—will attract viewers. Some college sports, regional events of all kinds, or small entertainment events featuring local performers are all examples of live stream events that have local appeal.
  • If your event has national appeal you’ll want to price it as low as possible to encourage a greater number of viewers. Having a low price point has an added benefit: it helps avoid any potentially negative backlash on social media that naturally takes place if people think something is too expensive. Too-high pricing is also more likely to dissuade people from viewing any of your organization’s future live streaming events.

Do you know your other options for generating revenue besides pay-per-view? Download this free guide to learn more ways to maximize your monetization efforts.


2. What are your viewers willing to pay?

There will always be people who object to paying for content, and some audiences may be tougher than others. For instance, parents of collegiate athletes who are already paying tuition tend to be more resistant to paying for live-streamed sporting events. You won’t be able to please everyone, so the best strategy is charge what the majority of viewers would consider to be a reasonable price at the start. Remember, for many people your live stream is the only way they can get access to an event, so they will be willing to pay.

3. What is the value of your content?

Having said the above, people will be willing to pay if they see value in your content. Think about it this way: If you compare your production to one taking place in a multi-level theatre, is yours the one with low audio, where the camera sits in the balcony seat not zoomed in all the way? Or is it the one that switches between three cameras to get up close and personal with the action? In other words, if your production is really impressive, some viewers may appreciate watching a well-done live stream more than watching the event in person. It takes time to work your way up to this kind of high-quality production, but before you start charging, be sure your product will at least leave viewers satisfied.

4. What are your PPV live streaming goals?

Some organizations charge for their live streaming content to generate revenue; others do it to cover the costs of production and equipment. Many Stretch clients reinvest the money they earn back into their programs, buying new equipment little by little to increase both the quality and quantity of their productions. Over time, those small investments will make their live stream content even more valuable in the future.

With this in mind, consider what your own organization’s goal is for pay-per-view live streaming. If the revenue from PPV is intended to cover the costs of your production, you can set lower a lower price than if you’re looking to make enough to buy new equipment. But if you’re just starting out with monetization, it’s always a good idea to start with a lower price, see how things go, and work your way up to a more sophisticated broadcast.

Want some help finding your pricing sweet spot?

Pricing a pay-per-view live stream can be a challenge, which is why we work closely with all our clients to help determine fair prices and assess how their monetization strategy is progressing. We can also help you create monetization packages, which give your viewers the flexibility to watch as much or as little as they want—and maximize your revenue potential.

Are you ready to hit the ground running with the right live streaming partner? Schedule a free demo of our platform today! We’re also happy to answer any questions you have about pay-per-view live streaming—just drop us a line.

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4 Live Streaming Mistakes To Learn From

Live Streaming Mistakes

You rarely hear the word boring in relation to live streaming.

Most live streamers could probably throw together a blooper reel in the space of a few minutes, made up solely of production blunders and unexpected incidents from past live events. And it’s not just the homegrown productions that face the perils of a live broadcast. Remember Joe Namath’s irrepressible urge for a kiss during an ESPN interview? Or how about the time the Super Bowl feed was disrupted by a power outage? And don’t forget about this infamous live BBC interview.

Whether it’s a local or a national production, life goes on, strange things happen, and live video captures it all. The key is learning from these mistakes. Below are a few common live streaming mishaps we’ve seen over the years that we think can be avoided, so listen up to ensure they don’t happen to you.

Live Streaming Mistakes (And Tips For Avoiding Them)

Balls Going Rogue

Picture this: You’re watching a live streamed soccer game at home and it’s a critical moment in the game; the striker is lining up to attempt what could be a game-changing free kick. He approaches the ball, swings, and kicks, and… your screen goes dark. In this true story, the live stream came to an abrupt end when the ball hit the camera squarely and destroyed it. We’ve seen the same thing happen with a foul ball during a softball game (see the video clip below—thanks St. Scholastica Saints!). If the live stream setup was dependent on a single camera to capture the action, you and a whole lot of other fans are left hanging. And for those on the production end, well, it’s time for a new camera.

TIP: Think through your camera placement before the game starts. A camera placed too close to the action or in the direct path of gameplay is at risk of getting hit by the ball, or even by players. Also, if you’re doing a single-camera production, it’s a good idea to have a backup camera nearby just in case. Nobody ever thinks it’s going to happen to them—until it does.

Live Streaming Mistakes

Weather Wreaking Havoc

The weather is great fodder for small talk, but it’s not always given enough attention when planning for a live stream. Weather conditions can have a swift and negative impact on the success of your broadcast. We’ve called clients in the past wondering why their live feed stopped only to discover that their equipment was damaged in the rain. We’ve also seen sudden storms cause panic on camera, with everyone rushing to get the cameras under cover. And we can’t forget about gusts of wind knocking over cameras. One second your fans are watching the game and the next they’re getting a good view of the bleachers or clouds in the sky. Bad weather can easily take down your live stream if you’re going in unprepared.

TIP: Listen to weather reports on the day of the event and plan accordingly. If it’s a windy day, make sure your tripod is sturdy and well-rooted to the ground. If there’s any chance of rain, arrange your live stream setup under a pop-up tent, or even indoors if possible. Have whatever equipment you need at the ready, so you’re prepared rain or shine.


Wondering what else you should be prepared for? Download this free checklist to find out the steps you should take before, during, and after every live stream event.


Unintended Eavesdropping

We’ve occasionally gotten emails from fans who’ve heard more on a live stream than they bargained for, thanks to conversations taking place too close to hot mics. Foul language, personal rants, and even pleasant banter between friends have all been caught on tape and streamed out to fans inadvertently. Your viewers just want to watch the game—and while some may be amused, some will most certainly not.

TIP: Advise your camera operators to be mindful of nearby sound anytime mics are on. Operators should also pay attention to loud noises and/or conversations that could be caught on mic due to its positioning. If you’d rather be safe than sorry, most camera mics can also be completely disabled. While a total lack of ambient sound on your broadcast is a less desirable experience for your audience, sometimes this is the best course of action.

Technology Traps

Troubleshooting technological issues can be an irritant and a time suck. Every second counts in a live streaming situation, and the last thing you want to be doing is spending precious minutes (sometimes even hours) working out a technical snafu. We’ve seen operators frantically checking camera manuals, consulting internet forums, asking anyone and everyone for advice, and basically running around in circles, when the solution was simple: the camera was unplugged.

TIP: When troubleshooting tech problems, check the obvious first. Taking a second to do this simple step could save you loads of time. It’s not uncommon for cords placed in high-foot-traffic areas to come unplugged. Make the outlet your first stop should a problem arise and go from there.

Want more live streaming advice?

I’ll be the first to admit that you can’t avoid every mishap—nor do I think you’d want to. In those cases (Joe, I’m looking at you), score one for a thoroughly entertaining and definitively unboring live stream.

But for the most part, we know you want to have an issue-free live stream—and that’s where we come in. We can’t promise that every broadcast will go off without a hitch if you work with us here at Stretch, but I can promise that we’ll do everything we can to make all your live event streaming as pain-free and simple as possible. We’ll do for you what we do for all our clients—offer guidance and advice on everything from what kind of equipment to buy to improving your production workflow to creating a top-notch experience for your viewers. If you want to hear more about what it’s like to partner with us, let’s chat.

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Pay-Per-View Streaming Service: 4 Reasons To Choose Stretch

4 Reasons To Choose Stretch

So, you’ve decided to invest in your live streaming future through monetization (congrats!), but where do you go from here? The number one way to generate revenue from your live stream is pay-per-view, so we recommend starting with a little investigative work to find out more about how pay-per-view works and things to consider as you get started.

After that, it’s all about choosing the provider that’s right for you. Your needs—and your goals for your live stream—should inform the comparison process, setting the stage for success. Below are some of the standout features of Stretch’s pay-per-view live streaming service; if it seems like we’re a good match for your organization, let’s talk!

Stretch Pay-Per-View Streaming Service

When you choose Stretch for your pay-per-view needs, you’re getting a lot more than just a live streaming provider—you’re getting a partner who will actively help your program grow. We’ll work closely with you to help you achieve your goals, and guide you through the monetization process to maximize the impact of your efforts. Other benefits to choosing Stretch as your pay-per-view-streaming provider are:

1. You have full control of your live stream portal.

That’s important if you want your live stream to play a role in your organization’s growth strategy. You put time and effort into creating your content—the next step is making sure it’s delivered in a way that’s consistent with the rest of your organization’s branding. At Stretch, we’ll design a custom portal for your live stream, with a clean, professional look and feel. Within the portal, you also have control over the ads that viewers see. Plus, you’re free to utilize the framework around your live stream as yet another monetization opportunity, using it for local business advertisements or to thank sponsors of the content. The portal is clearly yours—which is not the case for many other platforms. So if you want toreinforce your branding, control what appears around your content, and optimize your revenue potential, Stretch can give you what you need.

2. You have plenty of flexibility in pay-per-view packages and viewing options.

Viewers are more likely to buy your video content if you can offer them a range of purchasing options. They may want to watch one event, several events of a similar type, or an entire season of offerings from your organization. That level of package customization isn’t commonly offered among pay-per-view-streaming services, but at Stretch we’re happy to accommodate whatever options you think will be most attractive to viewers. We’ve created day passes, single-event passes, full season (full access) passes, tournament-specific packages, and more, and we can do the same for you. Plus, we offer pay-per-view support for over-the-top devices like Apple TV, Android TV, and Amazon Fire, giving your clients an even greater degree of flexibility in how they prefer to watch. So if you’re looking for flexibility with regard to pay-per-view package creation and viewing options, Stretch is a good match.

3. You can offer viewers top-notch customer service—without handling it yourself.

Having multiple viewers means handling multiple issues, all while the live stream is taking place. Inevitably, some fans will experience technical problems; others may have questions about payments or refunds. If you have the manpower to manage it all, customer support may not be an issue for you. But if you don’t, Stretch can help. We handle all viewer inquiries during live streaming events for our clients, and on average, respond in less than five minutes. We also handle all refunds if there’s an issue with an event or a specific user. Great customer service reflects well on your organization, and boosts the level of professionalism. So if you’re looking for someone to handle viewer customer service, Stretch is the perfect choice.

4. You can maximize your revenue.

It’s common for providers that offer pay-per-view streaming services to take a cut of the revenue generated and to split credit card processing fees with their clients. It’s also fairly common for those credit card fees—usually 3%-5% of the transaction amount—to come out of your portion of the profits, not the provider’s. At Stretch, we do things differently. We offer aggressive revenue splits with our clients, and take out all credit card processing fees from our side of the split. That means more money goes into your pocket from every event. Plus, you’ll have easy access to real-time revenue data—the number of purchases, as well as your split—so you’ll always know how much you’re making off each event, even down to details like how many purchases were made while the event was live and how many were made on-demand. So if you’re interested in maximizing your revenue, Stretch is the ideal partner for you.

Want to partner up with Stretch?

Are we your ideal pay-per-view streaming partner? We hope so! If you’d like to learn more about working with us, here are two options for next steps: either schedule a free consultation to talk with us about your live streaming program and goals for monetization, or, schedule a free demo of our live streaming platform. Either way—ask us anything! We’re here to help.

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20 Intriguing Live Streaming Statistics

We probably don’t have to convince you of the popularity of live streaming—if you’re here on the Stretch website it would seem you’re on the right side of things already. But it’s useful to evaluate the current state of things occasionally by looking at industry statistics. Statistics tell us where we’ve been, where we’re going, and what we should be on the lookout for somewhere down the road. If you’re as passionate about live streaming as we are, the stats below will be of interest to you as well.

Individually, the following live streaming statistics are interesting, but together, they tell a story: Live streaming is here to stay, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.

Live Streaming Statistics

1. The live video streaming market is estimated to grow from $30.29 billion in 2016 to more than $70 billion by 2021. (PR Newswire)

2. Internet audiences are viewing more live content than ever before—81% viewed more in 2016 than they did in 2015. (Mediakix)

3. Thirty-six percent of Internet users said they watched live video as of November 2016. (eMarketer)

4. 63% of millennials have watched live content and 42% have created it, making this group the largest consumers and creators of live video. (eMarketer)

5. Eighty percent of people would rather watch live video created by a brand than read a blog. (Livestream)

6. The search term “Facebook Live Stream” has increased in popularity more than 330% since Facebook Live’s debut in August 2015. (Mediakix)

7. As of June 2016, most of the companies publishing on Facebook Live were outside of the U.S. At that time, the top publisher was Mercedes-Benz, with a total of 38 live videos. (Socialbakers)

8. Facebook Live videos are watched three times longer than videos that aren’t live. (Mediakix)

9. In June 2016, organizations streamed almost 200 live videos on their Facebook pages—six times more than they streamed only six months earlier. (Socialbakers)

10. Research on Twitch and YouTube shows that streamers who generate content on a regular basis for a dedicated audience are likely to generate three times more income over a span of two to three years streaming, compared to those who produce inconsistently and have a less stable audience. (Streamlabs)


Interested in monetizing your live streamed content? Find out more about this trend and how you can take advantage of it with this free guide to monetizing your live streaming productions.


11. In 2016, Facebook paid more than $50 million to media companies and celebrities to produce live content. (Those deals were not renewed in 2017.) (Business Insider)

12. Live content on Facebook receives 10 times more comments than regular videos. (Business Insider)

13. Seventy-eight percent of Facebook users watch live streaming on the platform. (Zero Gravity Marketing)

14. Twitter and its partners created 600 hours of live video content from a total of 400 events in the last quarter of 2016 alone. (Adweek)

15. Twitter’s live programs in the last quarter of 2016 were primarily about sports (52%), news/politics (38%), and entertainment (10%). (Adweek)

16. About half of Twitter’s live video viewers are under the age of 25; 33% of viewers are from outside the U.S. (Adweek)

17. In Q4 2016, 31 million unique viewers tuned in to Twitter to watch various types of content. (Adweek)

18. Animal Adventure Park saw its YouTube live views count surpass 232 million during the pregnancy of the world’s most famous giraffe, April. (It garnered more than 7.6 billion minutes of live watch time, total.)  It was the second most live-viewed channel in YouTube history. (YouTube)

19. Twitch ranks 84th on the Alexa ranking of the world’s most popular web pages—one spot ahead of the New York Times. (Sports Illustrated)

20. The record for most concurrent viewers for a single stream was set in 2017 by eleaguetv, a professional esports team, with 1,027,493 viewers. (TwitchStats)

Know of any other interesting stats? Tweet us @stretchinternet and let us know!

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Analyzing Alternatives To Ustream, Twitch, & Dacast

Looking for Ustream alternatives? Or maybe you’re investigating (or have already tried) Twitch or Dacast and are looking for an alternative to those.

These live streaming platforms are among the most well-known, but they aren’t necessarily the best fit for every organization. It all depends on your needs and what you’re looking to do with your live stream. Different streaming providers bring different things to the table; if your live stream is stagnating on Twitch, for example, it may be time to look for Twitch alternatives. And you don’t always have to choose just one outlet—as we’ve pointed out before, it’s a smart idea to combine live streaming solutions for maximum reach and impact.

Sometimes, the grass really is greener on the other side.

Ustream, Twitch, & Dacast: Why look elsewhere?

A lack of branding could be keeping your live stream from flourishing. If viewers can’t immediately identify the content as coming from your organization, you’re missing a huge opportunity to build relationships with potential customers. Your branding conveys a certain look and feel about the company that you hope customers feel good about and remember. Why pass up the chance to communicate that message to hundreds of live stream viewers if you’re putting time and money into producing the stream in the first place?

Ustream and Twitch prioritize their own branding over yours—it’s their live streaming platform so everything looks very much the same. Viewers will more likely than not walk away remembering they watched something on Ustream… but will they remember that the content came from you?

At Stretch, you take control of your live stream portal. Not only is your organization prominently featured as soon as viewers log on, but you have control of the surrounding logos, graphics, or commercials (if you choose to have any at all). All of our clients’ portals are custom-tailored to their organization, and have a clean, professional look and feel.

Your live stream is an important tool for building your brand—is your provider doing everything it can to support you? Get this free guide to find out what you should expect from any live streaming provider.  

Live streaming limitations might also be holding you back. Dacast uses tiered pricing plans based on usage, which essentially places bandwidth usage restrictions on your live stream. So if you’ve paid for 100 gigs and you’re streaming at 2.0 megabits per second, every viewer who watches that content is using that data. (Overage charges may apply, so fingers crossed for not too many viewers!)

Here’s a Dacast alternative: At Stretch we don’t track viewer hours or usage. You can go one of two ways: If you only have a few events to live stream, we’ll negotiate a per-event fee. Or, if you’re going to reach a certain number of events, it makes more sense to go into our unlimited plan—for a predetermined amount per year you can stream as many events as you want.

Monetization options that are limited or nonexistent prevent you from making a profit on your live stream, which in turn stunts the growth of your live streaming program. With Ustream and Twitch you don’t have the capability to monetize your stream, which means you’re losing out on valuable revenue that could be used to cover equipment costs and expand and improve your program. And while Dacast does have monetization options, be prepared to handle viewer support (technical issues, refunds, etc.) yourself. Finally, be wary of how a provider handles transaction fees for credit card processing; many take the fee out of your revenue split, cutting into your profits.

At Stretch you have two ways to monetize—pay-per-view and sponsorships/ads. Our fees include fan support (if your viewers need a refund or anything else, we’ll take care of it). For pay-per-view, we’ll take the credit card processing fees out of our own revenue split, not yours. And, you can use your customized portal to earn additional revenue with ads that also help promote other community organizations.

You’re on your own when it comes to live streaming. That means a couple of things: Not only is there a minimum amount of support (in some cases, no support) for technical problems; you also won’t get expertise, advice, or insight on how to grow or improve your live streaming operation.

At Stretch, all of our clients are considered partners. We want your live stream to be the best that it can be, and we’ll do everything we can to make that happen. That’s why we build customized production workflows for every client based on existing processes, hardware, goals, and budget. We’ll suggest a solution that maximizes your resources and the quality of your stream, and help you reach your overall goals for live streaming, too.

Ready to try a Ustream alternative?

If you’re interested in seeing what Stretch has to offer, either sign up for a free 30-minute consultation with us to review your current live streaming setup and possible ways to improve it; or, take a look at our platform and how it works with a free demo.

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3 Industries That Have Successfully Monetized Live Streaming

3 Industries

Success means different things to different people. (Though I think we can all safely agree that this NBA team nabbed it recently.)

Organizations have, in our view, hit a homerun with live stream monetization when they have:

  • A carefully thought-out strategy for monetizing their stream.
  • Seen the live streaming process through to the best of their ability.
  • Reinvested monies earned to help cover expenses and/or improve their live stream.

Success with monetization is not about how much money you make; that’s all relative. It’s about realizing the value of your product and taking action to preserve it. Even a small profit can make a big difference in the health and growth of your live streaming program. So if you’re just starting to explore how to make money streaming online, first consider what success means to you, then go from there.

Here are a few of the industries we’ve seen that are experiencing success in this area. If you’re thinking of ways to monetize your live stream, consider taking a page out of their playbook.

Is your organization missing an opportunity to profit from its live stream? Get this free guide to learn more about your monetization options and how to know if monetization is the right move for you.

Three Industries Doing Live Stream Monetization Successfully

1. Sports

We’ve mentioned the Northwoods League before in this blog—the largest organized baseball league in the world. Its pay-per-view (PPV) games draw an audience of roughly a million people, and the money earned is mostly reinvested in its live streaming program. Over time, the PPV live stream has enabled the league to purchase new video equipment for all of its ballparks, which continues to boost the quality of each broadcast.

In my experience, sports organizations at all levels have great potential for generating a profit from their live streaming. Aside from having a product surrounded by a sense of urgency (most people prefer watching a live streamed game—soccer fans, check out NBCUniversal’s new premiere league pass), there are numerous ways to add value to their product and engage with fans, including:

  • Producing pre- and post-game shows and interviews with players and coaches.
  • Offering multiple ways for fans to pay for content (i.e. season passes or single-event passes).
  • Recruiting local businesses to sponsor events and run commercial advertising.
  • Tweeting highlight clips, game stats, and other items of interest to fans.

2. Racing

Dirt car racing, horse racing, sailboat racing, bike racing… fans love to watch high action events in real time. As a result, many of our racing clients have seen a great deal of success with their live stream monetization efforts.

There’s a lot racing organizations can do to encourage and promote their live stream, with social media being at the top of the list. For example, you could use Twitter or Facebook for pre-race promotion and to share post-race highlights; you can also attract new viewers with add-ons, like Q & A sessions with participants and fans, demonstration videos, or contests or giveaways. Social media ads and sponsorships can help generate even more revenue alongside each PPV event.

3. Pageants

Pageant organizations have also done well with live stream monetization this year. Like the other industries mentioned, promotion of PPV events also has a lot to do with their success. Pageant organizations sometimes market to previous pageant viewers by emailing them directly about upcoming events (assuming the viewer voluntarily registered with their email address and opted in to marketing emails). This targeted approach engages customers who have already shown interest in the product, and are more likely to tune in for the next event.

Interested in learning more about how to make money streaming online?

If you’d like to know more about how your organization can get started with live stream monetization, get in touch! We’d like to partner with you to help you grow. As your partner, we’ll help solidify your live streaming goals, strategize about how best to reach them, recommend PPV pricing, and suggest a reasonable timeline in which to make it all happen. Set up a free 30-minute consultation call today to discuss your monetization options—no commitment necessary.

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Pay-Per-View Live Streaming Services: Your Guide To Hosting & Platform Options

Pay-Per-View Large

Some things just need to be watched live.

A few years ago, Grantland featured an article on this very topic, declaring that (when it comes to sports, at least), “it’s live… or it’s totally dead.” The reasons they offered ranged from the rational (if the game already happened, the drama of what could be is gone) to the irrational (hmmm…. maybe we can influence the outcome of a game just by sheer psychic energy). Then there’s the idea that you just never know what might happen at a live event. I mean, is the possibility of a bear breaking into the stadium and attacking the players ever really off the table?

That’s what makes live events—in this case, your content—so worthwhile. So why not charge for pay-per-view live streaming (PPV)? The idea of monetizing live video content seems to be catching on, as more organizations are realizing the true value of their product. If people are willing to pay to see the event in person, there’s no reason they wouldn’t do the same to watch it live on TV.

PPV is the number one way to generate revenue from your live stream. But there are a few things you should know about pay-per-view services before you start tallying up the dollars and cents.

Pay-per-view isn’t the only way you can generate revenue with your live stream. Download this free guide to find out more about monetization options.

Pay-Per-View Live Streaming—6 Things To Consider

1. Not all live streaming platforms are pay-per-view video platforms.

As of now, none of the free live streaming platforms—YouTube, Ustream, Periscope, etc.—are capable of putting video content behind a paywall. And in fact, even many paid live streaming platforms don’t have the infrastructure to support PPV and the activities associated with it. Fans typically pay for events by credit card, which means the platform you use must have some way to handle credit card processing.

So if you’re currently using one of these platforms to live stream your events, you’ll need to switch to a provider with more advanced capabilities.

How Stretch does it: While many live streaming companies use outside vendors for payment processing, we handle it all in-house. When an end user purchases video content, the transaction goes through our own secure processing system. For you, that means superior customer service. As your live streamed event takes place, you can “talk” access our payment system directly and track your revenue in real time. And if our support team receives an email from fan who needs a refund for any reason, we can easily log into our merchant account and provide a refund right away—no back-and-forth necessary.

2. Pay-per-view services take a cut of the money.

It’s common for live streaming platform providers to take a cut of the revenue generated from PPV. Beyond that, there are two questions you’ll need to ask:

  • What percentage of the revenue from the event will you receive?
  • Who pays the credit card processing fees? These fees usually come to 3%-5% of the transaction amount. Many live streaming providers take those fees out of the total revenue, then split the remaining funds with you.

How Stretch does it: Stretch does a gross revenue split, meaning the total revenue is split with you first, and then credit card processing fees are taken out of our share only. That means more money in your pocket from every event.

3. Flexible pay-per-view packages can maximize your returns.

Fans are more likely to buy your video content if you offer them a range of purchasing options. Some people want to watch one game, while others know they want to view every game of the season. Still others might want to watch only championship games.

The problem is, not all pay-per-view live streaming providers offer high degrees of flexibility. If the only purchase option fans have available is high-definition (cost) vs. standard definition (free), that’s not enough to provide a great experience for fans. We highly suggest making it easy for people to pay ahead of time for whichever package they prefer.

How Stretch does it: You design your viewing packages, mixing and matching whatever you like, and we make it happen. Our sports clients create packages that include everything from day passes to team passes to playoff packages to second-half-of-the-season packages.

5. Ease into pay-per-view live streaming the way you want to.

If you’re hesitant about how PPV will be perceived by your fans, take it slow. Start with the minimum price required (this will vary by provider) and work your way up over time. Use the ramping-up time to build a fan base, putting the proceeds back into your equipment to help produce a higher-quality broadcast. It’s a great way to generate some revenue and improve your live stream at the same time.

How Stretch does it: To cover our margins we may set a minimum price per event, but if you don’t want to charge that much, we’ll work with you to get to where you’re comfortable. We want you to feel good about your offering, and help you attract as many viewers as possible.

6. Let viewers access your live content however they want.

Over-the-top (OTT) streaming devices are increasing in popularity—there’s one in four out of every 10 U.S. households. Your fans should be able to access your PPV content on their platform of choice, whether through Apple TV, Roku, or anything else. Some platform providers offer support for OTT, but not all have the ability to put the video content behind a paywall.

How Stretch does it: We can deliver any live broadcast to an OTT device as PPV content. The key is giving viewers a way to prove they’ve paid for the content, which we do through an activation code. To watch, viewers simply log into their Stretch account on a laptop or a phone, get an activation code for their purchase, and plug the code into their OTT device.

Interested in offering pay-per-view live streaming?

We’d love to work with you to get it started. If you have questions about our pay-per-view services or how pay-per-view-live streaming might work for your organization, let’s talk. In a free 30-minute consultation we’ll answer any questions you have about PPV; or, if you’re already using PPV but are looking for a new platform provider, we’ll review your current monetization strategy and see how it can be improved. Monetization is a natural extension of live streaming—take advantage of it!

How-To-Monetize-Your-Live-Streaming-Productions

Should You Offer An Online Church Service & Live Stream?

Should You Offer An Online Church Service & Live Stream

Still weighing the benefits of live streaming your church services? And here we thought this article would lay all of your doubts to rest.

But if it didn’t, keep reading. So many churches have started live-streaming their services that there are plenty of success stories out there; for that reason, we’ve included lots of links to other articles we thought might be helpful. If, after reading, you still have questions about online church services feel free to give us a shout.

Will live streaming my church services impact attendance and participation?

Physical Attendance

Top of mind for most pastors with regard to church live streaming is attendance. With attendance rates already in decline, it’s understandable that the idea of offering people yet another reason to stay home seems counterintuitive.

Churches that have instituted live streaming do, in fact, notice a shift in attendance patterns, but not in the way you think. New Hope Chapel in Massachusetts experienced an increase in attendance among young people under the age of 21 thanks to its live stream. Other churches, too, have noticed that many online viewers eventually start to attend mass in person at a church they first discovered online and liked.

If attendance rates do decline in conjunction with church live streaming, the two phenomena are not necessarily connected. It could be that there are deeper issues at work.

Engagement

Once upon a time, attendance was the only way to measure a church’s success, but today, that’s no longer the case. There’s much more to a healthy, growing church than the number of people who physically, or even virtually, attend a service. A more important indicator of success is engagement among your parishioners. After all, the real goal is to encourage as many people as possible to help spread the word.

As you might guess, it’s incredibly difficult to measure how well any church achieves engagement—as Christianity Today puts it, “transformed lives, healthy congregations, [and] exercising faith, hope, and love” are intangibles that can’t usually be directly evaluated. But you can be certain of this: The more people that are actively engaged in your ministry, the more you are fostering a high degree of discipleship.

Do the phrases small staff and small budget describe your church? You can still offer church services online! Download this free guide to find out how to make it happen.

Live church services that are also archived on your website help foster engagement in the following ways:

  • During a live stream, viewers can engage with one another via Twitter, sharing ideas and increasing understanding of your message.
  • Your live streamed resources are accessible by anyone, any day of the week—not just Sundays! Congregants can satisfy their need for learning and fulfillment often, which helps speed the engagement process.
  • Live stream viewers, already online, are more likely to share inspiring parts of the service immediately via social media, spreading your message even further.

In what ways will live streaming impact my church physically?

Some churches are bucking the declining attendance trend and heading in the opposite direction—they’re growing. Live streaming is helping them achieve that growth in an unexpected way: by expanding onto multiple campuses. The latest trend (some are calling it “the new megachurch”) isn’t about having the largest audience under one roof; it’s about having multiple campuses open in different geographic locations. In the past 15 years, more than 8,000 multisite churches with five million congregants have been founded in the U.S. (As this article shows, multisite isn’t for everyone, though.)

Live streaming makes the multisite concept easier. It’s both cost- and time-efficient—one pastor giving one sermon takes the place of multiple pastors doing the very same thing or one pastor giving multiple sermons on the same day. That leaves more time for more pastors to concentrate on their congregants and their staff. Multisite live streaming also enables a small church team to have a big impact, making it possible to cast a broad net over a large geographical area.

Will live church services help reach our fundraising goals?

It’s entirely possible! You can set up your live stream to allow viewers to contribute to church offerings online while your in-person congregants carry out this task inside the church. (The right live streaming platform provider makes it easy to do this!)

Some churches have seen live stream viewers give even more in the way of donations than physical attendees. One of the churches described in this article receives a third of its total income from online viewers and, some weeks, sees more donations come in online than its congregation gives in person.

Can I afford to live stream our church services?

Live streaming isn’t that expensive. From an equipment standpoint, there’s a good chance you can rustle up almost everything you need to get started from the equipment you already have (or from a congregant or two who haven’t used their old, dust-covered video camera in a few years). Start with the most basic setup (even an iPhone or iPad will get you rolling), and add on over time. Depending on the streaming provider you choose, they might be able to help you build out a workflow over time by identifying your long-term streaming goals and then proposing a multi-year plan to acquire the necessary equipment (our production department handles this for our clients).

How will church services online benefit my existing congregants?

It’s not just about growth; live streaming your church services is good for your existing congregants, too.

First, it fills a void for those who are unable to attend church for one reason or another (including blizzards!). This article by Religion & Ethics Newsweekly gives several great examples of parishioners who’ve been able to stay connected to their church despite the fact that they can’t get there in person, including two seniors with physical challenges that make it hard for them to leave their home on Sundays and a family that continued attending church even while on vacation in Israel. Lifehouse in San Antonio says that 60-70% of its live stream viewers are already active church members; they’re simply unavailable to attend on the occasional Sunday due to out-of-town commitments, or they like to participate in additional services other days of the week.

And what about former church members who’ve moved away, students who’ve left for college, or congregants who split their time between two homes? If they’d prefer to remain connected to your church rather than find a new one, live streaming gives them that opportunity. Does your church support missionary work? If so, it’s probable that your missionaries would appreciate a way to stay connected even when they’re far away from home.

Live streaming also paves the way for potential new members, who may prefer to see what a church is like before attending in person. (This article suggests that newcomers to any town may watch a church’s live stream an average of six times before deciding to visit in person!)

Ready to learn more about live streaming your church services?

Why not give your church the chance to spread its message beyond the walls of your gathering hall?

We’d love to help. We’re a live streaming platform provider that works with churches, sports programs, production companies, and all kinds of other community organizations to help them share their live streamed events with interested viewers. And while some live streaming platforms are free of charge—like YouTube and Facebook—their “hidden” costs come in the form of time, lack of technical support, and prioritization of their goals over yours. With Stretch, your goals as a church come first.

If you’re still considering whether or not to live stream your church services, take the next step forward and talk it through with an expert. Schedule a 30-minute consultation call with Stretch, where we’ll help identify your live streaming goals, suggest equipment, and clarify the process—whatever you need. (No commitments necessary!) We can guarantee you’ll come away feeling more knowledgeable about the process—and you’ll be one step closer to the live church services that are helping so many other churches thrive.
Everything_You_Need_To_Know_About_Live_Streaming_Your_Church_Services_Stretch_Internet

Live Streaming: The 4,500-Word Ultimate Guide

Live Streaming 4500-Word Ultimate Guide

Our entire team here at Stretch is, if nothing else, ambitious. We have a tendency to go all out—just ask the group of elementary school kids we took to task on a recent company laser-tag outing. Let’s just say there were more than a few “No mercy!” rally cries from our overzealous bunch. That’s why it seemed perfectly reasonable to go all out on our blog, too, which is how we ended up with this “everything you could ever possibly want or need to know about live streaming” (aka ultimate) post.

So have a look around, skip to the parts you’re most interested in, and then, hopefully, you’ll have some new bits of knowledge you can put into action. And if you still have questions about anything you’ve read here—including questions about your own streaming setup or our live streaming platform—give us a shout. Our ultimate ambition with this post (see how we did that?) is to help all of you live streamers out there reach your goals. Good luck!

Table Of Contents
Part 1: The History Of Video Streaming
Part 2: The Equipment You Need To Live Stream
     Basic Live Streaming Equipment
     Advanced Live Streaming Equipment
Part 3: Live Streaming Technology Advancements
Part 4: How To Live Stream
     Choose A Live Streaming Platform
     Prepare Your Streaming Setup
     Starting Your Live Stream
     You’re Live Streaming! Now What?

Part 1: The History Of Video Streaming

Live web streaming exists thanks to several early innovations, starting with George Squier’s work on signal transmission in the early 1920s. Squier came up with a way to transmit audio signals over electrical lines and received several patents for his work. His original intent was to deliver music directly into homes, but when radio caught on, he made a change of course. Instead, his company, called Muzak (sounds like a modern day startup, doesn’t it?), sold and delivered prepackaged “elevator music” to stores, offices, elevators, and factories.

In the decades following, another foundational element of live streaming, the internet, slowly evolved. This worldwide network of computers would eventually make it possible to share continuous streams of data with people around the world. The first live stream actually took place on June 24, 1993, when a California band called Severe Tire Damage broadcasted a live performance to the world from outside the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. The stream utilized new technology, called the Mbone, that made audiovisual broadcasting possible; up until that point, it had mainly been used for academic purposes.

By the mid-1990s, however, the primary focus was on audio-only streaming. In 1995, a company called Progressive Networks introduced RealAudio, a compressed audio format that allowed people to listen to music as it was being downloaded. Once audio streaming paved the way, it wasn’t long before live video streaming came to fruition.

Live event streaming has come extraordinarily far in 20-plus years. Today’s technology is developing faster than ever, with new and exciting developments year after year that are progressively making live streaming more accessible to everyone—even giraffes.

Part 2: The Equipment You Need To Live Stream

For all its technological advances, live streaming is still pretty simple if you want it to be. The equipment you choose to use depends on your level of experience, your budget, and your goals. Over time, your organization will likely evolve in all three of these areas, which will affect the live streaming technology you use. The basic equipment needs are the same across the board, but because most people vary in their current situations, we’ve found that there are two different categories of live streaming equipment: basic live streaming equipment and advanced live streaming equipment.

Basic Live Streaming Equipment

If you’re still considering live video streaming or if your organization is about to experiment with it for the first time, we can guarantee you’ll find success if you keep it simple. Trying to do too much right out of the gate not only opens the door to added technical challenges (there’s enough of those to go around at every level of experience), it will also be mildly to monstrously frustrating for all those involved. Live event streaming should be fun! If you follow the guidelines below, you’ll end up with a good-quality broadcast—and your hair still intact.

Here’s what you’ll need to get going.

A Video Source (Aka A Camera)

You might be tempted to spend thousands of dollars in this area, but there’s really no need—$400-$500 will get you a fully functional camcorder that can handle the job. Any consumer camera that’s less than five years old will have what you need to start streaming.

That said, your live stream may have certain requirements that will be better met with a more expensive camera. For instance, if you know you’ll be shooting from far away and need to zoom in quite a bit to really capture the action, it’s advisable to buy a camera with high-quality zoom capabilities. So consider how you plan to use the camera before making a purchase.

Download our free guide to get popular camera and encoder options for churches.

A one-camera production is best to start, because it’s the simplest option. As you gain more experience with live streaming, you may want to add additional cameras (and check out the advanced live streaming technology list below).

It’s also possible to use an iPhone or an iPad as your camera. In that case, the only things you’ll need as far as live streaming equipment are the device itself and a mobile live streaming app. While there are several app options, we always recommend GoCoder from Wowza, which works with a variety of live streaming platforms, including ours. This handy app delivers your video and audio content to any device and it’s very easy to use. Your streaming provider may also have its own application for streaming live video from a mobile device, so be sure to check on that first. Or, if you’re using Ustream, Livestream, YouTube, or a social network to stream, there’s no need for an app—you simply stream directly from their mobile applications.

A word of caution, however, that there are some drawbacks to using an iPhone or an iPad for live streaming: The picture quality on mobile devices doesn’t stack up to what you’d get with a traditional video camera, and the lack of optical zoom means you’ll need to stay fairly close to the subject you’re focusing on. Also, you’ll likely want someone manning the device, whereas with a traditional video camera, you can set it up and walk away. Lastly—but maybe most importantly—beware of data charges if you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network!

That being said, if your mobile device is all you have to start, it’s a good temporary solution. In fact, it’s a great way to test if your live stream is a viable product in the first place, before traveling too far down the live streaming road. It’s also a good secondary live stream setup if you’re trying to stream two events simultaneously, or if you’re streaming an event without a physical location.

A Tripod

It might sound like an “extra” piece of equipment, but having a tripod eliminates the slight shake that always accompanies a hand-held camera. (We know you think you’re holding steady, but trust us, you’re not.) The professionalism it will add to your broadcast will make it money well spent.

And to all you iPhone/iPad streamers—we recommend tripods for you, too! In addition to the tripod, you’ll also need a mount to hold your iPhone or iPad in place.

A Computer

You probably already have one of these—either a Mac or a PC—and most likely whatever you currently have will get the job done, as long as it has either a Thunderbolt port (Macs) or a USB 3.0 port (PCs). To check on your computer, look for the following:

  • USB 3.0—Depending on the computer manufacturer, one of two symbols will designate the USB port: Either the inside of the port itself will be blue, or the port will be labeled “SS” (which stands for “Super Speed”).
  • Thunderbolt—most often found on Apple computers, this port will be labeled with a lightning bolt symbol.

An Encoding Device

Video encoding is the key to streaming live—it’s the process of converting your video input into a digital format so it can be played back on a computer and then sending it to either a content delivery network (CDN) for distribution on the internet, or a live streaming provider (like Stretch). The process of encoding helps make large video files smaller so they can be moved more easily over the internet. It is absolutely essential for live web streaming.

There are two types of live stream encoder devices:

  • A hardware encoder is a separate device dedicated to video streaming.
  • A software encoder runs on your laptop or desktop computer.

Plenty of people spend time debating the merits of hardware vs. software encoders. Why? Because both options are good, but they also both have advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation.

Since hardware encoders are built solely for encoding, some people claim they’re more reliable. They also remove added strain from a computer that’s already running a number of other processes, which could help avoid problems related to speed and function. Software encoders, on the other hand, are easy to reconfigure, making them more flexible than hardware encoders. They’re also very simple to use and make for fewer things to lug around when you’re bringing live streaming equipment on the road.

Software Encoders

For people just getting started with live streaming, we usually recommend Flash Media Live Encoder (FMLE) from Adobe, a free software encoder. You can download it to any computer (Mac or PC) in less than 10 minutes. It’s perfect for a basic, single-camera production (it doesn’t support multiple cameras, unless you have a video mixer that you are feeding into your computer). Wirecast software is another good bet; you can use it to add production-quality effects to your broadcast, like lower-third graphics, scoreboards for sporting events, and multiple camera shots. Wirecast runs anywhere from $495 for the studio version to $995 for the professional version.

Important note: If you plan on using a software encoder, you’ll also need an additional piece of equipment for your live stream setup: acapture device. Computers aren’t necessarily made for receiving video and audio from other sources, so you need a way to convert those signals into something the computer can recognize. A capture device does just that—converts the video output into a digital format that your computer can understand. (With most hardware encoders, you will not need a capture device unless you have a mismatch of signal output/input on the camera/encoder respectively.)

Your capture device should be compatible with the type of computer you’re using, either a PC or a Mac. It plugs into the Thunderbolt port on a Mac or the USB 3.0 port on a PC. The Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder is a good choice for the Mac; for PCs, we recommend one from Magewell’s USB Capture Family. Both devices are economical and perform well.

Even if you’re just starting out, it pays to think long term when it comes to software encoders. If your goal is to build your live streaming program into a sophisticated multi-camera production over time, we strongly suggest selecting a software option that can grow with you. It will not only save you money in the long run, it’ll also save you from having to relearn another system later on down the line.

With that in mind, take a look through this list of critical features that a software encoder needs, along with a few things that are simply nice to have.

Critical features your software live stream encoder should have:

  • The ability to stream and record simultaneously (just in case!).
  • The ability to switch between video sources (for enhancing your broadcast later).
  • The ability to send to multiple destinations (for maximum reach).
  • A built-in graphics editing system (even the most basic graphics system will save time and improve your broadcast).

Ideal (but not necessary) features for your software live stream encoder:

  • A built-in audio mixer (for better sound and making volume adjustments).
  • Social media integration (so fans can interact with you and each other during the live stream).
  • The ability to replay in real time (especially handy for sports).
  • The ability to color-correct your video source (if you don’t have time for white-balancing).

Hardware Encoders

When it comes to hardware encoders, the Teradek VidiU is a good choice for a simple camera production without graphics. It’s an affordable solution that Teradek promotes as being “perfect for novices.” Plus, its compact size makes the VidiU perfect if you tend to live stream from a variety of venues.

Another hardware encoder we like to recommend is the Matrox Monarch HDX—a good fit for studio live streaming. The Monarch also works well if you already have a fully produced feed “ready to go” from another production environment, like a television truck on location. The Monarch takes that feed, encodes it, and sends it to your streaming provider.

All-In-One Production Platforms

Beyond hardware or software encoders, there’s one more option to consider: an all-in-one production unit like the Tricaster or Wirecast Gear. These production platforms are dedicated hardware solutions that both produce and encode the live stream, allowing you to change cameras, add graphics, pull in video or images, and more. This option works for both studio installations and portable setups (although you do need computer monitors, a keyboard, a mouse, etc). They’re also easy to use—just plug in your cameras and start streaming.

A High-Speed Internet Connection

Because it’s live web streaming, download and upload speeds are vital. Download speed is more important to your viewers that are trying to “pull” down your live feed, but a robust upload speed is critical for your ability to “push” a live stream out successfully.

If your upload speeds aren’t up to snuff, your viewers will almost certainly experience heavy buffering (the spinning wheel of doom!). To test it, make sure you’re connected to the network you plan to stream from and go to speedtest.net; once you run the test, you’ll get your upload speed in seconds. A high-definition (HD) live stream requires a speed of 3-4 MBPS; standard definition (SD) requires 1-2 MBPS. A slow upload speed is a non-starter for your ambitions of live streaming glory.

Whatever location you’re filming from, you’ll need internet access in one of three ways:

  • Ethernet (hardwired internet)—recommended for reliability.
  • Wi-Fi.
  • Mi-Fi (provided through cellular carriers like Verizon and AT&T).

Locations vary widely when it comes to internet access, which can make this element one of the most challenging aspects of your live stream setup.

Advanced Live Streaming Equipment

If you’re an experienced live streamer you already have the basic live streaming equipment. Here, we’ll mention a few add-ons that will improve and enhance your production.

Multiple Cameras

Single-camera productions are fine, but if you want to truly boost the quality level of your production, it’s time to introduce multiple cameras. Having more than one camera allows you to shoot from a variety of angles, giving viewers the feeling of actually being there.

For more detailed information on this topic, check out this article. To sum it up quickly, you have two good options for a small-scale multi-camera production setup:

Want more information about live streaming equipment? This extensive live streaming checklist includes lists of necessary and optional equipment, as well as preparation checklists.

  • The least expensive option is to use Telestream’s Wirecast and a Mac. BlackMagic’s UltraStudio Mini Recorder (or something similar) can bring the HDMI signals from two cameras into your computer via its two Thunderbolt ports. If you have three cameras, you’ll need a USB-based capture device like the Magewell USB Capture HDMI Plus or a Magewell SDI Plus for the third one.
  • A PC setup requires one or more PCI Express cards (however many you need) to bring in the video. You’ll also need one of the following: the DeckLink Mini Recorder (similar to the UltraStudio Mini Recorder) that accommodates one HDMI or SDI input at a time, the DeckLink Quad 2, which has eight channels that can be assigned as you like, or the Pro Capture Quad SDI, which lets you bring four inputs into your desktop tower computer.

Besides the setup, one of the challenges of working with multiple cameras is covering the distance between their placement and the control room (or the main camera). Unless you’re using wireless cameras, you’ll need plenty of cables to bridge the gap. Speaking of cables…

SDI Cables

The basic live streaming setup uses relatively cheap HDMI cables. The longer they get, the weaker the signal gets, which is why we recommend keeping them under 10 feet. If your camera placement requires spanning more than 10 feet, you’ll need an HDMI-to-SDI converter.

Rather than extending your HDMI cabling, a better alternative is SDI. With SDI you can go very long distances—up to 300 feet—without amplification. You can even run SDI cabling farther if you like—up to 2,700 feet—using signal boosters every 300 feet. You’ll find this a lot easier to use when trying to add additional cameras to your live stream setup.

The Blackmagic UltraStudio Mini Recorder includes both HDMI and SDI connections. And if your camera doesn’t have SDI natively, you can pick up an HDMI-to-SDI converter for less than $100; the benefits you’ll get will be well worth the price.

Wireless Tech For Live Web Streaming

If you’re managing multiple cameras, the next step is to shed the cables. Depending on where your cameras are situated, you might end up laying hundreds of feet of cable all told, which is time-consuming and, for some locations, a downright difficult proposition.

What if, instead of running that 300-foot cable, you could have 300 feet of wireless capability? Being able to take your cameras wherever you want to go—even right up to the edge of the action—makes for an exciting broadcast that will be appreciated by your viewers. It also lets you be a bit more creative with your camera angles, because cabling can be restrictive.

If you’re thinking of giving it a go, we usually recommend Teradek’s Bolt wireless system. Not dependent on Wi-Fi or 4G internet, it creates its own wireless local area network to talk to a receiver and a transmitter. But you will need batteries to power both the camera and the transmitter.

Audio Equipment

Good-quality sound is part of a professional-quality live stream. Incorporating an audio mixer allows you to include one or more broadcasters and play prerecorded commercials or interviews. It also gives you more precise control over your audio levels. Some encoders come with a built-in audio mixer that allows you to adjust the volume on each source individually as they’re brought into the live video. Wireless transmitters and receivers can also be valuable if your audio setup is not geographically close to the production location.

Graphical Tools

If you’re looking for a fairly simple yet noticeable way to improve your broadcast, consider investing in some graphical tools. Not just for sports, graphics can enhance any kind of live event streaming—you can to attach titles to speakers, provide information about materials being discussed or used (like hymns or scripture references), or conduct live polls. For sports in particular, graphics tools allow you to share information directly from a scoreboard controller, or statistical information and headshots. There are lots of ways in which graphics can enhance a broadcast; just think about what your viewers might want to see, and you can most likely make it happen.

For those of you using Wirecast, NewBlue Titler (made by NewBlue) runs alongside it, letting you render graphics and integrate them quickly into the Wirecast workflow. It can run on the same computer as your encoding software.

Part 3: Live Streaming Technology Advancements

There won’t likely ever be one definitive list of live streaming equipment—live streaming technology continues to evolve due to the growing popularity of live video streaming and the fast pace of technological innovation. At the moment, these three trends will be shaping the immediate future of live streaming:

  • Wireless camera technology is seeing a dramatic price reduction thanks to recent advancements. Soon it may be an attainable option for many more broadcasters, a development that could have a significant impact on the production process.
  • NewTek’s Network Device Interface (NDI) continues to grow as an industry standard. NDI uses a venue’s existing network to enable communication among several video sources, eliminating the need for cables or wireless equipment. NDI is already transforming production workflows and will continue to do so, especially with the arrival of new, related products—including one that converts a camera signal directly into NDI.
  • Thunderbolt 3 video devices, including capture devices, are beginning to hit the market for the latest version of Apple’s MacBook Pro. That’s great news—it streamlines the connection between capture device and computer (no more Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapters!).

Like many others in the industry, we are anxious to see how the continued evolution of virtual reality (VR), and even augmented reality (AR), impact the live streaming product as a whole. As new developments and opportunities present themselves, we’ll keep looking for exciting ways to integrate with our existing platform.

Part 4: How To Live Stream

You’ve gotten your equipment—great! But what’s next? You’re almost ready to go…

Choose A Live Streaming Platform

Before you can start live streaming, you need to decide how you plan to broadcast—in other words, what platform will you use to share your live stream with the world? There are two kinds of live streaming platforms:

  • Social media networks like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Live streaming platform providers (Stretch is a platform provider; there are many other providers to choose from as well).

We feel it’s important to note that this isn’t necessarily an “either/or” choice. Many organizations utilize both options, as they both have different strengths. Having a good live streaming strategy that encompasses both methods can be a good way to reach your live streaming goals. Some organizations also utilize more than one social media network, as they have different audiences and different features. (This article has a good breakdown of your choices and the features associated with each.)

To state it simply, social media networks are great for “Johnny on the spot” streaming—for filming impromptu, short clips that you want to share with the world. These types of video streaming services allow you to reach your entire subscriber base as soon as you go live.

Platform providers have their strengths, too. You can give your live stream a more professional look with a portal custom-designed for your organization, which helps to build your brand. And a good platform provider will also act as your live streaming partner, which means they’ll be there to provide technical support, offer guidance on live production techniques, and help you build out a long-term live streaming strategy.

A platform provider can dramatically improve the quality of your live stream—if you choose the right one. Find out what live streaming services you should expect from a streaming provider.

Do your research before choosing any of the above options. (And, if you’re thinking about setting up your live stream so it can be viewed on your organization’s website, read this first.) Then it’s time to dive in!

Prepare Your Streaming Setup

If you hope to pull off a live stream successfully, you can’t show up an hour before the event, set up your cameras and computer, and roll. It’s a good idea to put some thought into preparing for your broadcast, even up to a week in advance of the event. Testing your equipment and checking out the venue beforehand will go a long way toward minimizing problems—and stress!—on the actual day.

Here are a few things to take care of well in advance:

  • Check your connection to the venue’s network.
  • Check the speed of the network you plan to use.
  • Do a streaming test to check video, audio, and transmission speeds.
  • Make sure you have a way to record your stream locally.
  • Make sure your streaming software is up to date.
  • Secure backup cables and equipment if possible. (The more backups you have, the better!)

Download this extensive live streaming checklist for more detailed guidance on live stream setup and preparation.  

On the day of the event, set up your equipment as early as possible. The length of your cables will help determine placement. In general, the longer the cable, the more chance there is for something to go wrong or a signal to get lost. (Also, remember that HDMI cables more than 10 feet long may require an amplifier.) And if you’re setting up outside, keep the computer out of direct sunlight; none of the equipment should ever be hot to the touch.

Once you have everything in place, connect all the necessary cables—with camera or cameras turned off—and ensure that all the connections are tight. Then turn the camera(s) on and open your streaming program.

Tip: If you’re setting up the day before an event, shut down the computer overnight rather than putting it in sleep mode. Even in low-power mode, your computer still consumes energy and its CPU percentage will be higher as a result. Keep the computer off the night before to start fresh on the day of the event.

Starting Your Live Stream

We recommend starting your live stream 15 minutes ahead of the event’s scheduled start time. Starting a few minutes early gives you time to catch any last-minute problems and adjust basic things like audio, graphics, or camera focus. It also gives viewers something to see as they settle in before the program and a bit of time to sort things out if the stream appears not to be working.

It’s smart to check your feed by watching it the same way your viewers do. If you’re working with a live streaming platform provider, they should handle this check for you (and you can always contact them for confirmation); otherwise, you can pull up the feed on a device on your own. Sometimes everything looks like it’s working properly in the streaming program, but it isn’t coming through on the viewers’ end. That could be caused by any number of things, but testing can solve these problems before the event starts.

Once the stream is started, check on it occasionally (make sure you use a different network than the one you’re streaming from). Streaming is unpredictable at times—even a small dip in the network can knock you off the air. Ideally you’d head off any problems at the streaming computer before they made it through to your viewers, but if that isn’t realistic, simply check the feed in the viewers’ interface on another device several times throughout. You should also be able to depend on your live streaming platform provider to monitor the feed and communicate with you about problems.

You’re live streaming! Now what?

Keep it going! The more you do it, the better you’ll get—and the easier it’ll get. To develop a consistent and reliable production process right from the start, download our extensive live streaming checklist. It outlines the necessary tasks at every stage of production, starting a week before the event, so you can pull off a smooth live stream every time.

If you’re looking for some helpful advice about your live stream setup, process, equipment, or anything else, schedule a free 30-minute consultation call with Stretch. We’ll evaluate what you already have in place and make recommendations on how you can improve.

Good luck with your future live streaming!

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Evaluate Your Live Streaming Platform On These 4 Features

Evaluate Your Live Streaming Platform On These 4 Features

If live streaming seems like an extra—an afterthought compared to the rest of your organization’s operations and activities—then you’re missing out.

Your live stream is more powerful than you realize. For most viewers, it may be their first point of contact with your organization, and first impressions can be hard to reverse. So if you’re not doing everything you can to make a great first impression with your live stream, even your efforts to provide something “extra” could be working against you. Besides that, your live stream could be generating revenue, making it an even bigger contributor to your organization’s overall success.

Live streams that make a good first impression are usually supported by a first-class live streaming platform provider. What makes a provider first-class? In our view, it’s one that excels in relation to these four things: the viewing experience, branding and messaging, monetization options, and support.

We don’t like to brag, but we’re also not against pointing out our strengths, which is why we’ve outlined below how we stack up on each. Does your platform provider make the grade on these four features? Let’s find out.

Live Streaming Platforms: 4 Areas To Evaluate

1. Viewing Experience

It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that it should be crazy-easy for people to find and access your content in a variety of ways. But there’s more to a phenomenal experience than that. The best live content is also enhanced with relevant, immersive features viewers want.

Stretch Internet’s live streaming platform is second-to-none, and we’re constantly striving to improve. We’ll work with you to determine the features your organization needs, but our offerings include:

  • Access on any screen, from any device (including mobile and a growing list of over-the-top applications).
  • Enhanced social media integration.
  • Instant highlights.
  • A live data feed.
  • A multi-view feature for watching simultaneous events (PIP, two at a time, or even four games at once in our “mosaic” view).

2. Branding & Messaging

A first impression—and every impression thereafter—should reinforce your organization’s branding and messaging. Some platforms prioritize their own branding over yours, an approach that undermines all the hard work you regularly put into your live stream. The best live streaming platforms put you first, resulting in a more professional product.

With Stretch Internet, it’s all about you. Our goal is to help you share your stories more effectively. With us, you’ll get:

  • An attractive viewing portal custom-built for your organization.
  • The ability to upload your own graphics and other notifications.
  • Twitter integration so your users can see your organization’s social activity.
  • A news & notes section for general announcements to your audience.
  • A ticker message for event-specific messaging.

3. Monetization Options

Even if you don’t plan on charging viewers to watch your content in the immediate future, the ability to monetize it sometime down the road is a valuable option to reserve. Rather than allowing you to promote your own sponsors or supporters, some video streaming platforms place their own advertising around your content instead. Or, in the case of a content paywall, they may charge extra for processing fees.

At Stretch Internet, we want to help you get the most from your live stream, whether it’s through sponsorships and ads or pay-per-view (PPV). The funds you generate could help keep your program going, or even expand and improve it. With Stretch, you can expect the following:

For PPV

  • No credit card processing fees—we’ll take care of it!
  • The infrastructure to support PPV and all its associated activities (credit card processing, refunds, and customer support for viewers).
  • Flexible PPV purchase options for viewers (we can build customized packages to your liking).

For Sponsorships & Ads

  • Control over both dynamic ads (commercials) and static ads (the ones that appear alongside your content).
  • 100% of the revenue generated from ads.
  • The ability to add your own preroll.
  • The flexibility to adjust inventory options on the fly.

4. Support

Live streaming has its challenges, which makes it all the more important to have an awesome support system—not only for you, but for your viewers, too. True top-of-the-line support is proactive, not reactive, meaning your live streaming platform provider should find and address problems before you even realize they exist!

At Stretch Internet, we pride ourselves on being one of the best live streaming platforms available when it comes to support—it’s one of the most commonly cited reasons for our clients’ high satisfaction levels! Many live streamers are dealing with small teams (or nonexistent teams, in some cases), so we know how critical it is to have a reliable support system.

To support your live stream, we:

  • Work to identify issues early and help you address them.
  • Handle customer support questions and problems.
  • Work nights and weekends, when many live streamed events take place.

To support your live stream process, we:

  • Design a custom production workflow that makes sense for your organization.
  • Provide advice on technology and production.
  • Work with you to help your organization reach its live streaming goals.

Looking for a live streaming partner?

If you’re looking for a live streaming partner—not just a provider—then take a closer look at Stretch. Get to know us better by scheduling a free demo of our platform. You’ll see what the experience looks like from your viewers’ perspective and get to try out our easy-to-use content management system. And you can ask us anything you like—help and advice is our thing. Simply fill out this form, and we’ll be in touch!

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