I don’t do this often but wanted to share briefly about a service we have been using since last March, Restream. I’ll clarify right now that I am not being compensated to say this, but the workflow has value for other churches, which is why I’m sharing.
When we started streaming our full service online last March (like practically every church around the globe who had the capability), I wanted us to send our content not to just YouTube but also to Facebook. The goal being: let’s reach people where they are at, and the platforms they are already on. For us in our church, that’s Youtube and Facebook.
We currently encode and live stream using OBS Studio at our church. Our internet connection is pretty good, and we don’t typically have bandwidth issues when it comes to sending data out. However, in order to send a stream to multiple live streaming platforms simultaneously, if you didn’t have a 3rd-party streaming tool, you would have to use double the bandwidth to send to two platforms at the same time.
So, for us, enter Restream. We send our live stream to them, and then they relay it to YouTube and Facebook on our behalf. The delay is minimal. They also support a variety of other platforms as well, which we don’t use.
We “start streaming” in OBS which sends our feeds to Restream, and then our moderators, when ready, can switch on the streams for each connected social media platform when they are ready to go live on the actual social platforms. They do this remotely/off-site, which is great in these times that call for distancing. All of the API/connection data is stored in Restream, so I don’t have to give out admin logins or privileges to any moderators directly.
When we started streaming our services online, I wanted to create environments where people felt welcome to chat and share their prayer needs, stories, and just feel connected to others. I also wanted to be able to easily share sermon content and notes for people to help them in their application of scripture as they listen.
We initially had multiple moderators, 1-2 people “watching” the chats and comments on each social platform (YouTube and Facebook, currently) but then we started using Restream’s built in Chat feature. This aggregates all of the chat data into a single interface, which allows one person to respond individually per platform, or post to all places at once, depending on the needs.
Overall, this workflow has really helped us to serve more people with less staff and volunteers. The capability to turn the stream on and off independently of what production world is doing on-site is very helpful, and having all of the chat in one place means we don’t have to monitor it on each platform.