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KnowHOW: How to grow your streaming viewership

KnowHOW: How to grow your streaming viewership

KnowHOW: How to grow your streaming viewership

As expectations for live broadcasts increase, boosting audience figures can seem like a dark art. Ledetta Asfa-Wossen provides some tips that can make a positive difference to your viewer engagement

Whether you are a small HOW just getting started or a larger worship venue, it’s important to consider how good production values can affect the quality and delivery of your content and the impact of your messages. After all, a powerful AV experience can help encourage viewer numbers in the right direction.

Focus on audio quality

‘It’s not as easy as grabbing a consumer-grade camcorder and streaming the output to YouTube Live,’ says Mark Robison, broadcast solutions specialist at Vitec. ‘Audio for video is different from sound reinforcement for your sanctuary. The camera-mounted or built-in microphone will probably not sound good at all, and the microphone you are using for sound reinforcement in your HOW may not be the right option either. You need to remember that the viewer who isn’t in the room can’t necessarily hear everything that someone seated in the room can, and that reverberant, reflected sounds that are mostly unnoticed by congregants may be very distracting to streaming viewers.’

A general rule of thumb for video, notes Robison, is to get your microphone as close as you can and use a microphone that will reject sound coming from unwanted sources.

Lighting matters

Low lighting levels can be a common problem when streaming religious services, particularly in older or historic venues. ‘Lighting is very important. Contrary to popular belief, a well-lit scene on a mediocre camera usually looks better than a poorly lit scene on a very expensive camera. Also, poorly lit video when compressed and streamed often looks considerably worse because you have less detail and definition at the start,’ advises Robison.

Time and consistency are everything

Remember that your potential streaming viewers all have different considerations, from time constraints to the ability of your viewers to access your livestream on various platforms. Devising a clear plan for your video stream will ensure your broadcast is delivered smoothly and to schedule, in the best possible way. ‘Consistency is foundational to growing your audience. If your viewers can expect that your broadcast will start on time and as expected and that the quality of the content is good and getting better over time, then you have a solid foundation for growing your audience,’ adds Robison.

Aim for a more personal experience

Offering additional live streams, outside of the main sermon or worship event, such as a smaller community outreach event or a weekend workshop service led by a junior pastor or member of the congregation, can help to create more unique, content-rich livestreams to increase engagement.

‘There is now a growing trend among some of the largest mega-churches to use live streaming technologies to deliver audio and video to remote satellite facilities where the size of the audience is smaller, creating a more intimate personal experience. While it might seem counter-intuitive that a video feed might help in this regard, a really huge congregation can feel anonymous and impersonal. Delivering a live transmission of the message from your primary church facility to multiple locations ensures that the same consistent message is shared at every location, congregants don’t have to travel as far and yet, ultimately, a greater audience is served,’ notes Robison.

Act like a pro

According to Statista, digital video viewers in the US will reach 232 million by 2020 – the potential to capture a wider audience across a larger geographic area is huge, as well as more vulnerable groups such as the elderly or those unable to physically attend your HOW. For many HOWs, live streaming is also a key source of donations, particularly if your HOW video streams include embedded monetisation features to encourage contributions. Technical hiccups will always happen in some form but it’s the response that counts and that should always be quick.

‘On the technical side of things, adoption of H.265 (HEVC) encoding and updated transport protocols, along with improvements in speed, cost and reliability of internet connections from ISPs, means that some of the historical limitations for both HOWs and their audiences have been reduced or eliminated,’ he adds. ‘Furthermore, there have been several CDN providers who have taken the time to understand the specific and somewhat unique needs and preferences that can go far in making HOWs successful. This includes ad-free affordable services, real-time tech support with a live staff who can respond quickly – even on weekends, Sundays, holidays and after hours ­– as well as hosting archived recordings, branding and assistance with seamless integration of your broadcasts and VoD content into your own website,’ says Robison.

Monitor your video streaming

Last but not least, once you’re delivering a professional live stream on your chosen platform, it’s a good idea to monitor the success of your output. There are a number of analytics software tools that can help you understand the performance of your stream – and some of them are free. This will help you compare and contrast your growth or decline in audience figures. More essentially, it will help your HOW understand who exactly is accessing your stream and what type of live content performs well, who your repeat visitors are and what location your audience is tuning in from.

This article was first published in the March-April 2019 edition of Worship AVL. Subscribe at www.proavl-central.com/subscribe/worship

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