Production Hardware, Streaming, User Stories and Reviews
Case Study Snapshot
At Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, they know a thing or two about connecting with congregants both inside and outside the Worship Center. Since the church opened nearly a century ago, its membership and reach have grown steadily, with weekend services drawing an average of 2,000 attendees. These services have been broadcast live on television for 55 years, with an audience that extends into southern Arkansas and eastern Texas.
Like many churches, Broadmoor also live streams services online to reach greater numbers of current and potential members. The church even has its own smartphone app for watching these events—and when Facebook Live became available to the public, they were eager to get on board.
“We want to try to reach as many people as possible through the internet, and we know that people live in Facebook more than in websites today,” says Allen Hendrix, Minister of Communications at Broadmoor Baptist. But despite their years of broadcast experience, Broadmoor ran into errors and connectivity issues on this new platform.
Broadmoor Struggles to Replicate Streaming Success on Facebook
The church already had a well-established live-streaming workflow for its smartphone app, which is managed by TruthCasting: a cloud-based streaming service for churches. However, the Broadmoor team had difficulty replicating this success when they first started streaming to Facebook Live.
The church already had a professional studio setup in each of its two Worship Centers, where two different services are held: a more traditional, hymn-based service, and a contemporary service that incorporates a live band and projected video content. Each live-streamed service involves at least six professional cameras, and the feeds are switched and mixed in a master control room.
Despite having a professional broadcast setup, the video production and streaming staff at Broadmoor is almost entirely volunteer-based, as it is at many churches.
“The technology that we use has to be super simple for people to use who are not everyday video engineers,” says Hendrix. “We have bankers; we have lawyers; we have IT guys; we have retired moms and grandmothers who work in our space. We have a very broad range of personalities and experiences, so we want to make sure the things that we put in place are super easy.”
Originally, Hendrix and his team were using Wirecast to send the live stream from their production system to the TruthCasting service as well as to Facebook Live. But this caused a bandwidth bottleneck that slowed down streaming and negatively impacted quality. Buffering and audio clipping was common, and they often struggled to connect. What’s more, this setup involved equipment and configuration that could be challenging for Broadmoor’s volunteer staff to troubleshoot.
ClearCaster Simplifies Streaming and Boosts Broadcast Quality
In the midst of these struggles with the Wirecast workflow, Hendrix heard that one of his friends, a technical director at another church, had found an easier, more reliable solution for streaming services on Facebook Live: the Wowza ClearCaster appliance. At the WFX Conference and Expo in Dallas, Hendrix got to see a ClearCaster demo firsthand. When they finally decided to try it out at Broadmoor, the results were undeniable.
“The video quality coming off of ClearCaster is exponentially better than what we’ve seen off of even our higher-process machines using Wirecast.” —Allen Hendrix, Minister of Communications at Broadmoor Baptist Church
With its ability to automatically adjust to changing network conditions, ClearCaster has improved bandwidth utilization, relieving the bottlenecks the Wirecast system experienced. What’s more, it delivers much higher-quality video, with greater reliability, to Facebook Live. With their previous workflow, they frequently experienced buffering, poor video quality, distorted or dropped audio and out-of-sync audio and video, but ClearCaster alleviated these problems.
“The quality of the video signal is a huge benefit for us,” says Hendrix. “We typically would always get complaints … with our previous option, and a lot of times we’d blame that on how much data we had available, or how big our pipeline is—but we haven’t changed any of those pieces you would think could be causing those errors. The only thing we’ve done is we’ve added this one box. … It’s literally like watching HDTV on your computer monitor.”
Even better, ClearCaster is easy for the volunteer staff to use. They can now start a broadcast on Facebook Live in seconds, which enables them to create more successful broadcasts with less manpower.
“The success was the ease of use… being able to literally plug this box in, hook up a network cable to it, hook up a video input to it, hook up a monitor to it—and have it work,” Hendrix describes.
ClearCaster was also simple to integrate into Broadmoor’s existing streaming workflow. Today, they use a Blackmagic ATEM 2ME switcher to divert the outgoing stream to two places: one feed goes to Wirecast, where it’s delivered to the TruthCasting service, and from there to the smartphone app. The other feed goes to ClearCaster, which delivers a professional-grade stream directly to the Facebook Live platform.
Connecting Congregants in Meaningful Ways on Facebook Live
However, the most valuable benefit of all is the deeper engagement ClearCaster has facilitated for Broadmoor and its members. The Talent View functionality allows the team in the control room to connect an external monitor and see comments and Live Reactions from online viewers in real time, while the service is in progress. This has given Broadmoor a greater ability to connect congregants around the world with their worship services, joining members in community even when they can’t attend in person.
Hendrix describes one of their biggest successes to date with ClearCaster: when a family from the church was virtually reunited in a Christmas service on Facebook Live. The husband serves in the military, and had been deployed to South Africa. In the meantime, his wife and children had relocated to her family’s home in Missouri. Both were longtime church members, and had tuned in to watch a Sunday service on Facebook during the holiday season.
“Midway through the service, I noticed [a comment] from the gentleman who’s deployed, and he said, ‘Hi,’ and called out his wife’s name, who he had noticed had joined watching the feed,” Hendrix recalls. “So she replied back, ‘Hey, so glad that our families can worship today together.’
“That was a really cool opportunity to know that we’re connecting people … in our worship services, who are literally all the way around the world from each other,” Hendrix continues. “That’s the reason we do it—for people to be able to join together in worship wherever they are, whatever they’re doing, to help them engage that way. For them to even just be able to put a comment next to the video of a live stream was huge for us. That’s what we want to see.”
Professional Facebook Live Streaming for Churches Through ClearCaster
Since adding ClearCaster to their workflow for TV and online broadcasting, Broadmoor has seen many improvements, including:
- Higher-quality audio and video that doesn’t buffer, drop or get out of sync.
- More reliable broadcasts to Facebook Live, without connectivity or streaming errors.
- Easier, more intuitive setup and streaming for their volunteer-based staff.
- Greater engagement with online viewers, and the ability to meaningfully connect church members during worship services.
Because of the benefits Broadmoor has experienced, Hendrix recommends that all churches stream to Facebook Live—and that those valuing high-quality Facebook Live broadcasts use ClearCaster.
“Because of the opportunities that present themselves within a Facebook infrastructure and community, I think it’s nearly a no-brainer,” he says. “We look at the numbers of how many of our folks are on Facebook; how many likes we have; what the potential market is. When we put good-quality content out there, we know that it’s not necessarily seen in real time at the moment—but when it’s shared and then watched later, that number can get big really fast. I would recommend that churches get in on it.”
Broadmoor plans to continue using ClearCaster to live stream its services and bring members together in the new year and beyond. Want to learn how ClearCaster can help your church or organization connect with confidence on Facebook? Sign up for a demo today.
“The [ClearCaster] product is, in my opinion, the easiest I’ve ever seen to get people online. … If churches want to make an investment in what they’re doing to make sure that it’s done very cleanly and simply and looks fantastic … this would be where they’d want to do it.” —Allen Hendrix, Minister of Communications at Broadmoor Baptist Church