Hosting a LifeWay Simulcast

What is a Simulcast?
A simulcast or streaming event is an event that is broadcast simultaneously to various hosting locations worldwide through the use of the Internet.

I am buffering/freezing in my video.  What do I do?
Streaming live content requires a constant connection. The live video player automatically connects you at the highest bit-rate your current connection can maintain, but if you experience buffering it means that your bandwidth has dropped below your initial connection speed.   Our player is designed to follow that bandwidth fluctuation but on occasion, you may need to refresh the player.  You will simply mouse over the live player to activate the play-bar; click on the GEAR icon (the “Settings” option will appear) and choose a lower bit-rate than what you are currently connected at.  A general refresh of your browser instance will also correct the buffer in most cases.

Can I use a wireless connection for streaming my video?
Yes, you can.  However, wireless connectivity (WiFi) has the potential for drops in available bandwidth on your local network.  We recommend that you use a hard-wired connection whenever possible for a more reliable connection. 

What is the minimum connection speed that you recommend?
We recommend that the minimum connection be 700kbps (1MB for good quality; 5mbps for best quality) download speed.  You may test your connection’s speed by going to http://www.speedtest.net

If your download speed is less than the suggested minimum, then you have some options.  They are: 
1) Connect at the lowest speed we broadcast with (500k) and understand that the quality of the stream may be a bit less than you’re used to;
2) Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and request a faster connection.  In some cases, your current provider may offer higher rates of speed for the same rate you are already paying. 

Which browser do you recommend using for this event?
We recommend a “neutral” browser, or one that doesn’t depend on the operating system of your computer.  These tend to use less on-board resources and result in a higher quality video.  Therefore, we recommend using Firefox or Chrome in both PC and Mac environments.  Please be sure you update your browsers before the event to get the most recent versions. 

How do I connect my HDTV to the stream?
Streaming to your television is a good practice for both individuals and small groups due to their smaller environments.  Here is how you accomplish this:
 
Internet:  Connect your laptop/computer to the Internet via a CAT-5 cable;

Video Connection:  Plug a 15-pin VGA cable (commonly used to connect a computer tower/laptop to an external monitor) into your computer/laptop and then into your HDTV at the PC connection;

Audio Connection:  Using a mini-audio cable, connect the audio out/headphones jack from your computer into the Audio In of your HDTV.  Based on your computers settings, you may have to click on the Function 5 (F5) to see the image from your computer on your TV. 

Adjust Your Settings:  Use your manufacturer’s settings to navigate to the correct source for both your TV and your computer.  You may need to resolve the resolution sent from your computer to the TV by going into the Display Settings (Mac & PC) and adjust the resolution to match the best quality of your desktop image. 

Navigate to Live Stream:  Once you have completed these steps, simply open a browser (Chrome or Firefox recommended), navigate to the Live Stream page within the Host Event Site, and then click on the Full Screen button on the live streaming player.  The TV will now be your new monitor for the event and display the broadcast in full-screen mode. 

Depending on the type of computer/laptop you are using, there are many variables to this recommended setup, including use of HDMI connections, S-Video as well as wireless connections.  Any of these connections should work to transfer the display from your computer to an HDTV. 

Note: just because your TV is HD, doesn’t mean the stream will be; HD live streams will be broadcast in both the minimum HD resolution (720x400) and higher resolution (1920x1080) bit-rate (3.5mbps).   

What ports do I need to open on my network to watch the broadcast?
Unless you have intentionally blocked your ports using your firewall software, you most likely already have them available.  However, if you have disabled ports on your firewall, you will need to have the following opened up in order to watch the live stream:  Port 80, Port 1935; both for HTML and Flash traffic.  We do use an HTML5 player so your browser will use less local resources on your device.

Can I watch a live stream on my Mobile device? 
Yes.  LifeWay broadcasts to all mobile devices (iOS, Android, Windows Mobile).

Can I run the Support Chat and the Live stream on the same computer?
Yes and No.  If you have a computer that has enough processing horsepower, then yes, it is possible.  However, we recommend connecting to your live streams on a separate computer from the one you are using for Chat Support during an event.  This will give your live stream the maximum resources available during the live event and reduce the risk of buffering and/or freezing due to low processor availability. 

I am getting a blank screen on the Live player page.  What do I do?
This is due to the live video stream being blocked in some fashion at your location. This can be in a firewall, a router, or on your PC within a security application such as McAfee, Norton, Avast, etc.  Please check with your IT department to verify that your network is allowing live streaming.

THIS IS VERY COMMON IN A CORPORATE WORSHIP ENVIRONMENT; please check with your IT department in advance of the event you want to watch.

My Audio or Video is freezing and/or stuttering in the middle of the broadcast.  How can I fix it?
First, check your computer to ensure that no other programs are running in the background.  Click on CTRL (button), ALT (button) and DELETE (button) simultaneously in order to stop the other software processes. 

Next, check your anti-virus application and confirm it is not running in the background.  If it is possible to disable it, do so and then try to connect to the stream again.

Try to minimize the traffic on your network.  If there are others on the network, confirm that they are not also streaming or downloading large files.  Streaming radio and video commonly cause a fluctuation in available bandwidth on a local network. 

If you have a wireless network, consider disabling it for the event as well.  Smart-phones often will connect to an unsecured network as soon as they are in proximity to that network, which will cut down on your available bandwidth as well. 

Can I “Save” my live streaming video for later use?
Live events are streamed, therefore, cannot be saved as a file. 

However, we offer a cloud-DVR for some of our live streams.  The live content can be paused as well as reviewed in case you have missed something.  This content is not saved on your hard drive locally, but instead is delivered from a cached version in the cloud. 

Finally, saving the live simulcast content would be against your Host Site Covenant and violate copyright laws. 

Can I share this event on Facebook or Twitter?
We encourage you to share quotes and experiences of the Simulcast with your social networks.  Based on your event, you may even include a hash-tag and an event-specific-URL to share details. 

In some secured events, we do ask that you not share the Live Event link with your networks, however.  This link will not work without the login information associated with your LifeWay account.  And, this would also violate your Host Site Covenant agreement.

Streaming

The Live Feed will be delivered via LifeWay’s Digital Pass. First, login to your Digital Pass/LifeWay account at http://digitalpass.lifeway.com, select the red “Host Info” button for the simulcast you wish to view.  Then click on the “Watch Now” link on the right hand side of your Host Page.

Can I use my desk computer in the Church Office to test the streams?
Sure — if you are broadcasting the event in the Pastor’s study. We would recommend that you instead test the streams with the actual computer you will be using for the Simulcast, in the actual room you will use, using the Internet connection you will use, and with the projector or IMAG delivery mechanisms that you will use during the actual simulcast.

Pre-Simulcast Testing
It doesn’t do much good to test your systems in one environment — have success — and then move to the location that you will actually use for the event later. There are many moving pieces in a Simulcast that can affect your connection speed, latency (lag in the stream), audio delivery and even resolutions in your displays. Please use the Live Test events to create the same environment that you will use for the Simulcast event.

Can I “Save” my live streaming video for later use?
Live events are streamed and therefore cannot be saved as a file. However, we offer our live streams via DVR.  The live content can be paused as well as reviewed in case you have missed something. This content is not saved on your hard drive locally, but instead is delivered from a cached version in the “Cloud.”
Finally, saving the live stream content would be against your Host Site Covenant and violate copyright laws.

I know my church has a firewall on the LAN. What should I prepare for in navigating the Firewall software?
Check with your church’s Internet Technologies (IT) Professional and communicate with them regarding what ports and/or type of content that is currently being blocked. The live streaming video is delivered over Port 1935, Port 443, and Port 80 (RTMP and HTTP traffic should be enabled).
Our Support Chat also uses Port 80 for the Chat room. In case you have any issues with the Chat, simply close the window and re-launch the Chat application.

I’m in MST, PST and/or Hawaii or Alaska. How do I participate in real-time?
We offer the live Simulcast stream via DVR, which gives you the functionality to pause the stream, rewind it and/or fast-forward as necessary in your Host location. This allows you to promote the event’s starting time at the same time as the actual event, but start it based on your time zone needs.

Can I share this event on Facebook or Twitter?
We encourage you to share quotes and experiences of the Simulcast with your social networks. Based on your event, you may even include a hash-tag and an event-specific URL to share details.
We do ask that you not share the Live Event link with your networks, however. This link will not work without the login information associated with your LifeWay Digital Pass account. And, this would also violate the LifeWay Digital Events Terms & Conditions agreement.

How do I watch a simulcast from my Home?
Assuming you have all of the previously recommended requirements, the final components include your TV or computer monitor. Most likely you have a computer in your home office. If you are able to connect this computer to your television, following are helpful hints.
How do I connect my HDTV to the stream?
Streaming to your television is a good practice for both individuals and small groups due to their smaller environments.
Here is how you accomplish this:

Depending on the type of computer/laptop you are using, there are many variables to this recommended setup, including the use of HDMI connections, S-Video as well as wireless connections. Any of those connections should work to transfer the display from your computer to an HDTV.

Note: Just because your TV is HD does not mean the stream will be HD. HD live streams will be broadcast in HD resolution (720x400) and a minimum HD bit-rate (2.5mbps).

Can I run the Support Chat and Live stream on the same computer?

Yes and no. If you have a computer that has enough processing horsepower, then yes, it is possible. However, we recommend connecting to your live streams on a separate computer from the one you are using for Chat Support during an event. This will give your live stream the maximum resources available during the live event and reduce the risk of buffering and/or freezing due to low processor availability.

Simulcast Technical Support

Access

1-866-713-3512.

Best Practices for Quality Streaming
Here are some suggested action steps for End Users to create the best environment for receiving uninterrupted video streams during a broadcast.

Windows Support

Attention FLASH users: You will need the latest version of the Flash player from Adobe. Download and install the most recent Flash Player.

If you are still unable to view or hear the video clips, be sure to update your player with the most recent codecs patches. Download and install the most recent version of WMP Codecs.

Mac OSX Support

Attention FLASH users: You will need the latest version of the Flash player from Adobe. Download and install the most recent Flash Player.

General Questions

If the system is so reliable, why am I having buffering (freezing, stopping, skipping) issues with my stream delivery?
Great question. The CDN is the largest component in delivering high quality, uninterrupted streams to you, but it is not the only delivery component in the puzzle. The World Wide Web is called a “web” for a reason. A very complex delivery system is in place to get your streams down to your local Internet Service Provider (ISP) and in fact, they are part of the complex web of delivery. You may know your ISP as Comcast, AT&T, Qwest or one of hundreds of ISP’s that are available in each locality.

Once the live stream reaches your ISP’s area network, it is delivered to you over your own Local Area Network (LAN) usually within the walls of your church, building or home. Here is where the majority of the delivery mishaps occur when live streaming video is interrupted. Firewalls, the routers, and shared access to the network will all have bearing into your connectivity reliability.

How can I minimize the risk of interrupted streaming at my location?
We, at LifeWay, would encourage you to take a look at the FAQ’s that we offer on our Host Site, as well as take part in one or more of the Live Tests that we offer in the days leading up to the event.

If we could make these tests “mandatory,” we would, just so you could take advantage of the live environment we create so you can minimize those risks. We can’t — so we depend on you to follow up and test your systems.

Troubleshooting

I am buffering/freezing my video. What do I do?
Streaming live content in Flash requires a constant connection. If the player connected you at a higher bit-rate than your connection can maintain, simply go to the “MENU” button on the player, choose the “QUALITY” option and select a lower bit-rate than what you are currently connected.

My audio or video is freezing and/or stuttering in the middle of the broadcast. How can I fix it?
First, check your computer to ensure that no other programs are running in the background. Click on CTRL (button), ALT (button) and DELETE (button) simultaneously in order to stop the other software processes.

Next, check your anti-virus application and confirm it is not running in the background. If it is possible to disable it, do so and then try to connect to the stream again.

Try to minimize the traffic on your network. If there are others on the network, confirm that they are not also streaming or downloading large files. Streaming radio and video commonly cause a fluctuation in available bandwidth on a local network.

If you have a wireless network, consider disabling it for the event as well. Smart-phones often will connect to an unsecured network as soon as they are in proximity to that network, which will cut down on your available bandwidth, as well.

Why does my video jitter and freeze?
You may have a slower Internet connection from when the event started due to network congestion in your area. If you have a DSL connection, it is common for the stream to initially start off at a higher bit-rate than what the connection throttles down to. Simply choose the MENU button, choose the QUALITY button, and select a lower bit-rate than what you are currently connected.

I am getting a blank video screen on the Live webcast page. What do I do?
This is probably due to the live video stream being blocked at your location. This could be due to a firewall, a network router or directly on your PC within a security application such as McAfee, Norton, Avast, etc.  This is very common in a corporate worship environment. Please check with your Church IT department in advance of the event you would like to host.