What matters? How to capture accurate live stream data

Live stream providers throw a lot of data at the person streaming. And depending on what service you’re using to stream on any given day, those numbers (and the data points) could be entirely different from one provider to another. So how do you know what numbers matter? What data should you be monitoring week after week as you evaluate your live stream’s health? If your church is committed to sustaining its live stream long-term, here are a few things to think about:

Connection points

One way to monitor the health of your online church is by the sheer number of connections made. What is the next step that you want a person (or family) watching online to complete? Does that next step make sense for the viewer? Are you making that next step easily accessible to anyone watching online?

If you have an easy next step for people who attend your worship services online, then one way to monitor the health of your online “campus” is to track how many next steps are completed. If the next step is a digital connection card, how many people fill out that card each week, month, or quarter? Think about your expectations of people (and check whether those expectations are realistic). Make those expectations as seamless and as easy as possible. Then, monitor the health over long periods.

The number of connections made should be an indicator of health for your online church.

Don’t get lost in the numbers

As you look at the data available to you for each live stream, remember that the goal of the live stream service is to get you to keep streaming and stream more often. So a lot of their data points are given to you with that end goal. That’s why some numbers aren’t helpful to most churches.

For example, if your church streams to Facebook, one number you most likely see first is the number of views. This statistic probably looks good at first glance. But if you’re streaming your entire worship service, the “views” number is not helpful. A view counts any time a video is watched for 3 seconds—so in a 65-minute service, 3 seconds isn’t entirely beneficial.

Spending time analyzing each data point for each video streamed to your church isn’t helpful for you or your church. So don’t get lost in the numbers.

Pick a number

Each streamer provider—Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, and the like—has data points like the ones mentioned above. So instead of combing through the data, here’s something that might be helpful to realize: There is no perfect data point. In other words, pick one of the statistics, and stick with that same stat week after week.

Continuing with the same value each week will help you monitor your stream’s health. No matter what number you choose, there will be some nuance to what’s counted or not counted. Some helpful numbers for you might be:

  • Peak live viewers

  • Unique views

  • 1-minute views

  • Estimated reach

Each streamer provides different data points, but if you pick a data point, that will help you monitor the health over long periods.

Counting attendance

If your online church doesn’t have a chat feature, seriously consider changing or adding the chat function. Dedicate one volunteer each Sunday to engage and interact with the people watching at home in the chat. Including chat with your online church helps build community, keeps people engaged, and can help you monitor attendance to some degree.

Another way to count attendance is to consider how many people are watching with each “view” you see in the data. If you have reasonably good people data in your church’s database, you can find the average family size for your church. Another option would be to look up your state’s average family size. Then multiply the viewing data point by that number—that will provide you with how many people watched online that Sunday. While not exact, the goal is to help you monitor health and attendance.

What numbers do you monitor for live streams? How do you count attendance? How do you interact with people? I’d love to hear more about your online church experience! Join the discussion in our Facebook group.

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