As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact the world, we’re monitoring changes to video consumption. The latest trend we see across the network of sites using JW Player for their video streaming is new industries adapting to the opportunities to reach their audiences remotely. This is true in particular for live streaming. During our Live Streaming Made Easy webinar in April, we shared the surge in live streaming for news companies and also noted that we were seeing viewing growth by organizations that had not traditionally used live streaming to reach their audiences. One of these is worship and religious services.
While roughly 15 states are allowing religious gatherings to continue without any limit on their size, the majority have cancelled in-person gatherings greater than 10 to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation. Religious institutions have needed to find another outlet for their audience. So it should come as no surprise that of U.S. adults who attend religious services at least monthly, 82% say that their place of worship is streaming or recording its services so viewers can watch at home.
We wanted to narrow things down even further and look specifically at live streaming. So, we looked across our network of worship and religious based customers to check out their live streaming habits year to date on a weekly basis. Before the pandemic this year (Jan-March 2020), the weekly average for live streaming was about 111,487 minutes streamed. After the first week of the pandemic in March to now, that average has gone up to 951,230 minutes. That’s a 750% increase in live minutes streamed. Even after removing spikes for specific high viewing weeks, the average increase in live streaming is 600,000 minutes streamed per week. That’s still more than 5X pre-pandemic.
While there will always be a need for in-person services, online video has created opportunities for these religious institutions to reach their audiences in a new, engaging way. A Pew Research Center survey conducted last month found that 57% of adults who attend religious services at least monthly said they have watched religious services online or on TV due to the pandemic. Those involved in this community are still yearning for the connection and live streaming has been a way for them to stay connected.