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Webcasting and Media Hosting

Page history last edited by Bryan Chalker 12 years, 5 months ago

Purpose:This page is to discuss Live Webcasting/Streaming and Media Hosting Solutions.  Both have been included since there is some overlap, and many providers provide both services. While this page is meant to focus solely on third party providers, consideration should be given to self-hosted solutions as well during the decision making process. 


** As you find links that answer/reference questions below please link them at the end of each quesiton


** Please highlight open questions so they don't get lost.




(for the purposes of this article in the context of church / ministry usage)


Live Webcasting / Streaming: Live Webcasting (or live streaming, or more rarely livecasting) is the process of encoding worship services, lectures, events, etc. and delivering them via in real-time to the audience over the internet.  This is typically done by pushing the encoded video and audio from the source to a hosted server that distributes the content to the viewers/listeners.  This model uses solution such as Microsoft Windows Server Media Services or Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server to manage this process.  The server can be hosted by the organization doing the streaming or by a third-party service provider such as those listed in the "Provder" section below.  For more information see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webcast


Media Hosting:: Media hosting refers to a service or technology that facilitates the streaming or downloading of content in a non-realtime, on-demand manner.  Content can refer to any video, audio, podcasts, etc. The content can be delivered in many different ways, such as a download, streamed directly on-demand, etc.  Typically applications would be archives of worship services, lectures that are recorded and made available to the general public, etc.

  • Pricing model
    •  Webcasting
      • Flat service pricing
      • Per hour
      • per MB
    • Hosting
      • Flat service pricing
      • Per download / stream
      • Per MB 
  • Cost per listener
    • This is going to be a function of the pricingmodel that they employ vs. what your expected audience is
  • Content delivery
    • what technology is the service using to provide the stream / content
    • What is your audience 
    • Common Technologies: 
      • Flash
        • Advantages:  Nearly ubiquitous user adoption, Cross OS / Platform
        • Disadvantages:  Higher system requirements for encoding.
      • Windows Media
        • Advantages:  Wide user base, Better support for Windows Mobile devices, Better low bandwidth support (automatically reduces quality delivered to machines with low bandwidth / high latency.
        • Disadvantages: No native support for Apple or Linux based O/S - provided via third parties
      • Other
  • Encoder Required
    • Does it require a dedicated / proprietary encoder software or hardware
  • Hardware considerations
    • Live webcasting:
      • An encoding system must be built that can has enough power perform the encoding (and archiving if saving the stream while encoding) at the desired video size, bitrate, etc.
      • A video  and audio capturing card / device must be present in the machine.
      • The encoding machine must be in close proximity to the output for the audio and video
    • Media Hosting:
      •   Usually consists of a workstation that is geared toward video editing.
  • Bandwidth
    • For Live webcasting you must ensure that your upstream bandwidth (including overhead) exceed the desired webcast bitrate (or the total of all streams if delivering multiple streams at once) by a comfortable margin
    • Other considerations include allowing for other traffic on the same connection. overhead, etc.  Quality of Service can often be employed to prioritize the delivery or the stream over other traffic,
  • Analytics
    • What kind of feedback does the service provide
      • Live Webcasting:
        • total number of streams
        • total maximum concurrent streams
        • IP geo-location of viewers
      • Hosted Media:
        • Number of downloads
        • IP geo-location of downloaders
        • Number of audio only vs. video
  • Who's your audience
  • What are you trying to accomplish
    • provide services to shut-ins, missionaries, vacationers, sick & injured, weddings, conferences, music events.
    • Outreach to a particular community
    • Increase participation:   
      • (JVoorhis) A heavily marketed webcast or a webcast from a ministry that already has an audience will typically benefit most.  It's been my experience that smaller ministries don't see much or any growth in listenership (seen both from personal experience and other ministries on the services we use). 
    • the church must strongly consider the lack of community and fellowship for listeners on the webcast and see if alternatives can be arranged.  Lack of accountability, homogenization, etc.
  • Metrics:  
    • Cost per listener (survey from various churches have shown approx 1.7 - 1.8 listener per stream / connection)
Who is Using and How:
(list who you are using, how you are using them and what your average listenership is (concurrent streams * 1.8))
  • Tenth Presbyterian Church: http://webcast.tenth.org
    • Provider: Live Webcast: SermonAudio.com; Hosting: SermonAudio.com
    • for live webcasting of services, music events, weddings, conferences, and for storage/delivery of media
    • Average listenership: 250 for our AM services (2 identical), 70 during PM service
Table listing turnkey or platform, features, tech, pricing, used by CITRT and who, church specific / secular content, ads, media type supported (streaming / hosting), automatic conversion to other formats, etc.
Provider Turn-key or Platform Services Pricing Model Church Oriented? Integrable with Website? Ads in integrated content? Media Types Supported Technology Auto Conversion to other formats (hosted content)?
SermonAudio Turn-key



Hosting: Fixed; Webcasting: per hour Yes Yes No WMV, MP3 Windows Media Yes to MP4, Flash, MP3
Wowza   Platform W, H per MB No Yes No      



External / related links:

Comments (1)

John Voorhis | Tenth Presbyterian said

at 11:43 am on May 12, 2009

Hi all - please flesh out the definitions, considerations, etc. Also - a discussion of self-hosted vs. provider may be in order.

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