Looking for churchstreaming.tv experiences, good and bad

We’re very happy with our current provider/CDN we use to stream our service, but we’re wanting to take a look a churchstreaming.tv because of the buzz it has around here and the fact that streaming to FB, Roku, and AppleTV are baked in, which is not the case with our current provider.

What’s giving us pause is when we see/hear stories of people leaving churchstreaming.tv because of reliability issues, etc, though we realize there are lots of moving parts to a live stream and it could be that said churches just have poor bandwidth or lame encoders, etc. Or maybe churchstreaming.tv really isn’t as reliable as what we currently use. Cost is not a factor in our decision as it would cost us about the same (or more) as we pay now, as we’re running an avg of 1200 streams/weekend and about 2.3TB/month in bandwidth usage.

So, I’m asking for real-world experiences with churchstreaming.tv (reliability, support, how compatible is the player, etc), both good and bad. Thanks!

Hey @jimmichael I think you know that we like the guys at CSTV. I was skeptical that they could deliver what they promised at the price point they were doing it … but we switched to CSTV about 2 years ago and never looked back.

I don’t think you will find a platform that is willing to improve and add features like Rob and his team. Nearly every tweak or new feature in the platform we’ve asked for they have delivered. From adding features to setup recurrence of events custom to our needs to developing api integrations to make CSTV be the metadata source/setup for our archives (http://media.northwoods.church).

The only flaw i see in CSTV is because they are so feature rich their admin dashboard isn’t the most pretty of interfaces but it really does hold a ton of options and features.

Their pricing is per event so if that 1200 is spread out over multiple events/services they don’t look at the numbers per weekend. We are streaming to 1500-1700 people per weekend but since its spread over our live and replay services we don’t have to move up in the pricing. Not to mention recent weekends where we’ve had 6000+ because of weather and 4500+ for Christmas Day online only and they don’t balk at that and change our rates since its the exception to our normal numbers.

We had some Roku and AppleTV playback issues recently but their team has worked very hard to work thru those issues and i think things are good again.

I know they are adding direct stream to chromecast support soon and we use most of the other features including Facebook Live etc.

A little fun fact… CSTV hosts their own wowza cluster in colo. They chose to go this route for many reasons but the guys at Wowza said CSTV has one of the best server to viewer ratio of any of their customers and is one of a few that doesn’t host in AWS.

CSTV has great relationships with wirecast, ccli and wowza and has pulled some great tricks out for us when we needed help with those vendors.

If you want to talk more let me know.

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We’ve been using their platform at my church for at least 2 years now and LOVE it. Our tech/media group is not nearly as savvy as some others. I’ve been very impressed with the support they have received and the simplicity of setting up and using the system. The fact that I don’t get asked questions about it speaks volumes.
We recommend them to every client we have. I’m unaware of any of our clients moving away from them.

I agree with Jason. Church Streaming.TV has been a great resource for our team. In fact, because of the great support, I’ve completely passed responsibility for the product to the Media team. Along with Facebook Live and the AppleTV/Roku apps, we’ve been very pleased with the quality.
We’ve gotten no support tickets from members/attendees regarding streaming quality or ‘it wont play’ issues in 12 months or so. For the price, I can’t say there is better solution out there for a medium-large sized church.
As for the interface, it always loads and always works! Just looks bloated with all the features.

Been using cs.tv for 3 years now #easybutton

Thanks for the replies, everyone… great info! Sounds like we need to at least give it a shot. One question comes to mind regarding JLee’s statement about them having their own colo… what kind of experience do non-US people get? Do you all have viewers in outher countries? We have tons and it seems that any CDN that was "one colo only"and not globally distributed (we’re on Akamai now) would cause problems? Or am I misinterpreting the statement about them having their own wowza cluster/colo?

Jim: Sadly, I am not able to recommend CS.TV at this time. We are looking at alternatives and will likely switch soon due to major problems on December 18 and again on January 15. We had 8,000 people attempting to worship with us on January 15. Fewer than half had a good experience. Our senior pastor had to publicly apologize in his all-church email yesterday. He didn’t name CS.TV, but that’s the first time in 8 years of us streaming worship he’s had to do anything like that. In fact, bad weather Sundays have been a huge bonanza for online in the past and our senior pastor has been a huge fan. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. This was (is) quite painful.

Thanks for that detail, Clif! That doesn’t sound fun. So can I ask a few more questions? How long have you been on CS.tv, and are these two “events” the first time the service has let you down, or is this a pattern and these events were the last straw, so to speak?

I’m also curious to know if everyone else on CS.tv was having issues those particular dates (i,e “known system wide issues”) or is it completely hit-and-miss? The first, while not good, at least is understandable… the latter would be scary. Alas, I knew this wouldn’t be an Easy Button so I’m thankful for hearing about the good AND bad here. Decisions, decisions… :-p

I respect my colleagues who have posted here in support of CS.tv and don’t wish to undermine them or CS.tv. We’re perhaps a bit unusual in that it’s common for us in the winter to have 1500+ simultaneous streams at our biggest service of the weekend. On Jan. 15, we had 4,000+ attempted streams at our largest service due to the winter storm.

We have been on CS.tv since around June 2016. We had an unusually high number of support incidents for the first few months, but not enough to make us question our choice to use them. We had major problems with 720p HD streaming to Roku, mostly for Time Warner Cable (Spectrum) customers. TWC is a major ISP here in the KC area. Working closely with CS.tv, we eventually determined there was a congestion point in the common route between Chicago and KC where traffic handed off from Zayo to TWC.

The bigger issue has been on bad weather Sundays. On Jan. 15 we surged from 1500+ to 4000+ streams on Sunday morning and had major problems. Some online worshippers were able to overcome the trouble by switching to SD (360p) or lower, but many others abandoned it before trying those things.

We’re happy to provide more detail offline. Suffice it to say, bad weather Sundays have been a major driver of online attendance growth since 2008 when we started. When we had tech problems impacting thousands of worshippers on two bad weather Sundays in a row, we had to begin urgently seeking alternatives.

Thanks again, Clif. Very helpful info!

Here’s a nod in favor of CS.tv because of an unusually high level of support.
Our viewership is not like Clifs – we run somewhere around 1,500 streams per weekend, around 300 per service. For several weeks we were encountering issues due to some network problems between us and them. After performing as much troubleshooting as possible and helping us work with our ISP, it was clear that we weren’t going to get the kind of throughput we needed to have a great experience with CS.tv.

So, CS.tv setup a node geographically closer to us… and it solved the issue.

Compare and contrast that with our previous (big name) provider who virtually shrugged us off and told us it was our problem.

Hope that helps,