Best Apps For Live Streaming And How To Build One Without Code
“There’s an app for that.” may be cliché nowadays, however this is most definitely the case when we’re talking apps for live streaming and increasing online engagement in 2021. There are more smartphones in the hands of more of your current (And potential!) audience than ever before. In fact, the average smartphone owner uses 10 apps per day and 30 apps each month. So, why can’t your app be one of them?
With this much potential, creating an app can seem like a no-brainer, but where do you start? For the non-coder among us, there’s no need to fear; options abound that require zero coding experience and offer your users immense value in exchange for occupying a few megabytes of real estate on their smartphones.
One last thing before we dive in: In order to increase online engagement through live streaming you have to actually have a live stream. And preferably one that doesn’t buffer, or add in its own special effects. Check out our guide on how to get started streaming.
Ok, let’s look at some apps for live streaming and their platforms!
Best Apps For Live Streaming
Cost: $29/mo (Enables custom pages + sermons.)
When it comes to the Planning Center ecosystem, integrating is the name of the game. We already know that their Services app keeps the majority of live productions humming and volunteers organized, but recently their Church Center app has connected the church-goer to the church in several helpful areas. Perhaps the biggest addition to Planning Center’s arsenal of apps though is Planning Center Publishing.
Publishing allows you to create an even more customizable app experience while also driving engagement to your live stream. You can easily create series, add artwork, prompt calls to action with links, and utilize your current embed code or stream URL.
Cost: $59/mo + $149 setup fee
You may associate the Tithe.ly name with their awesome giving platform, but there is so much more going on here. From site building, ChMS, and even messaging, Tithe.ly has expanded their product line to truly become an online hub for churches everywhere. But, we’re talking apps that live stream, and Tithe.ly has you covered there as well.
Using the versatile and familiar paste-your-URL-here method, their customizable app experience brings everything your online audience needs under one roof. There are some pretty cool features mixed in like “Simulated Live Stream” mode which makes sure that no matter when someone joins the stream they’re experience starts where everyone else is already.
Pair that with chat, links for giving, and auto-generated countdowns, you’re looking at a feature-rich app that can help keep your audience engaged wherever they’re watching from.
When it comes to increasing online engagement through an app platform, Subsplash might have the most complete feature set currently on the market. Push notifications, giving integration, interactive message notes, Apple TV and Roku support, and on the list goes. Of course there can be a premium price tag that comes along with these power-packed features, but if you can find the resources, it can be well worth the investment.
When it comes to streaming Subsplash offers its own RTMP solution for an additional monthly cost. However, you can easily utilize your existing stream URLs from other services like Resi, which uses ultra-reliable RSP technology, and even push a notification to your audience just before your service goes live to help drive engagement to new heights.
If you’re using the ChMS, Church Community Builder, odds are that you’re also using Pushpay for your digital giving platform, which leads us to our next app strategy for live streaming: the Pushpay app!
Though it’s not mentioned on their website (Yet.), you can use stream URLs like the ones provided by Resi to plop your live stream right into the app that your audience is already accustomed to using for managing their giving!
Ok, we’re not gonna lie, sometimes building something exactly the way you want it is the best option. But what about all that nerdy stuff like coding, and well; CODING? This is where companies like Cross & Crown come in.
Whether you’re looking for a browser-based application or a fully custom mobile app, if you can dream it, they can build it for you. For some organizations, this option might be overkill, but for others, you’ve already left this page for Cross & Crown’s website and so we’ll stop typing now.
Are Apps For Live Streaming Not Your Thing?
Cost: You already have one, so basically free.
Wait, what? Your website??? Hear us out. Any modern website builder such as WordPress or Squarespace makes creating a smartphone-friendly version of your website easy or even does so automatically. After all, 83% of mobile users expect a flawless experience whenever they visit a website with any mobile device. So, your audience already has you in their pocket. Now it’s just a matter of optimizing your live streaming experience for a mobile browser.
There are already many services, like the free Church Online Platform from Life.Church’s Open Network that gives you many app-like features such as chat, countdowns, and call-to-action links all within a browser experience that effortlessly works in tandem with your existing website.
Even if you decide to forgo a platform-based approach, embed codes from your streaming service of choice can be easily placed inside your website and can instantly increase your engagement by providing an easily accessible online destination for your current audience, and those who haven’t discovered your content yet, to connect with your vision in whichever way is most comfortable for them.
Still not convinced your website can do the job? Check out the awesome article by our good friend Brady Shearer from ProChurch Tools: Church Apps? Read This First Before Building A Church App
Where Do You Go From Here?
You may have come to the end of this article and realized that you actually don’t have a live stream and need one ASAP. Well, that’s ok, because we can help with that! Check out our Live Stream Platform and get started today!
If that’s not the case, and you’re ready to start increasing your online engagement then we’d like to leave you with these final thoughts when it comes to using an app to drive traffic to your live stream.
- Content (And Quality) Is King: If you have an app, but your live stream isn’t worth watching, then why have an app? Dial in your broadcast audio mix, make sure your lighting is just right, and ensure your stream is buffer-free. This doesn’t need to be a budget breaker either! You’d be surprised how far a little intentionally can get you. Then spend some time crafting content that really translates well to your target audience so that the value of having your app on their phone keeps it on their phone.
- Track What Matters: Data is the new best friend of any organization, especially the Church! Make sure whatever platform you’re using allows you to track engagement and not just views. This is how you’ll be able to tell what’s working and what’s not. For more on the topic of engagement check out our feature with the data experts from Gloo or read our blog on how to Demystify Counting Your Online Attendance.
- Play The Long Game: Creating an app is a long-term investment into your communication plans. If you’re going to have an app, make it a central part of your community, talk about it all the time, and above all, don’t let it become what your website already is. This is a chance to give your audience something different than a mobile version of your website.