Engage your community with Roku and Apple TV church apps

October 14, 2020

When a family or small group gathers to watch your church’s content, are they huddled around  the same small screen on a shared  laptop or mobile device? What if these same groups could turn on their TVs, open up your church’s TV app, and comfortably engage with your church’s content on a larger screen from the comfort of their home?

If your church is recording sermons, live streaming weekly services, or creating media for your community, then you already have the right type of content to make an engaging TV app for your church. 

More and more ministries are building services TV apps to connect with over 100 million people already using Roku and Apple TV. Creating a custom TV app for your church is an effective and engaging way to reach your community on their big screens. Let’s take a look at how Roku and Apple TV apps work, and how they can help your church expand their reach.

       

Build a custom church TV app to use with Roku and Apple TV devices
                             

What are Roku and Apple TV apps and devices?

Roku and Apple TV are popular digital media players that offer free streaming services for movies, shows, sports, music, and on-demand videos through TV apps and a variety of channels. 

Both Apple and Roku offer streaming devices that plug into a TV’s HDMI port and come with a remote control. 

After connecting a Roku or Apple TV device to your TV and internet, set up is a breeze! Users can search and add individual apps and channels of their choice. Many smart TVs already come with Roku built in, allowing users to view apps without needing an additional device. 

       

There are many benefits for building a church TV app

The benefits of building a church TV app

About half of all Americans who regularly attend a church also watch that church’s sermons online. Similarly, 15% of people who don’t regularly attend church are streaming church sermons as well. 

Building TV apps can help your church, and content, reach a much broader audience. Here are some ways creating your own custom church TV app can help engage and grow your community:

  • Experience your church’s live streams on TVs from the comfort of home
  • Watch your church’s on-demand videos 24/7—including sermons, devotionals, special events, and more
  • Bible studies, small groups, and community gatherings will enjoy watching your content on their TVs
  • Make your content accessible to a potential audience of millions in the Apple TV and Roku app stores

Many churches and ministries already enjoy the benefits of offering their own Roku and Apple TV channels. Your church can also build their own TV app or use a TV app builder (like Subsplash) to build one for you. Let’s take a look at what’s involved in both of these options. 

How to build a church TV app in house

Building a church TV app on your own might feel daunting to your church’s budget or technical expertise. Fortunately, as we will see later, there are simple and affordable ways to build one for your church with Subsplash TV Apps. First, let’s take a look at the four primary services you will need and their associated costs of building a TV app by yourself:

Developer accounts

You will need to sign up for the Apple Developer Program (their $99 annual membership fee is waived for 501c3 nonprofit organizations), and create a Roku Developer Account (no annual fee). Plan for at least a few weeks to get your developer accounts approved. Subsplash makes this process easy with a dedicated onboarding team, knowledge center articles, and easy-to-follow instructions for each step. 

In-house or third-party app developers and designers

Roku and Apple do not offer training materials on how to build a TV app for your church, so you will need to find a staff member or a company to help you with the required technical knowledge. 

Hiring someone to build your TV app can be expensive. Most app developers charge about $45 per hour, and the average  app designer charges $25 per hour. The cost estimates for working with a TV app development firm or freelance developer can easily range from $1,500 to $30,000 and up. Additionally, it’s important to budget for ongoing app maintenance and software updates. 

After finding someone to build your TV app, it will likely take them a couple of weeks at minimum to create it and publish it on the Roku and Apple TV app stores.

Content hosting and delivery

Roku and Apple require broadcasters to have a video content distribution network (CDN) or online video platform (OVP) that meets their minimum requirements. CDNs are groups of servers placed all over the world that deliver your content as quickly as possible. 

Some OVPs and CDNs offer small amounts of usage for free or at a low cost. However, streaming your church events on Roku channels and Apple TV can quickly use up the free usage they offer, and paid plans can easily reach $100/month or more. 

Live streaming platform

If your church wants to stream live events, they will need a live streaming platform. You should also consider buying equipment that is compatible with Roku and Apple TV apps. This includes encoding and transcoding software or hardware. To learn more, please visit our Church Live Streaming Glossary blog post. 

How to build a church TV app with Subsplash

The easiest and most effective way to build a TV app for your church is by using Subsplash TV Apps. You supply the content, and Subsplash takes care of the rest, including:

  • Building your church’s Apple TV and Roku app
  • Live streaming to your church’s TV app, mobile app, and website, as well as through syndication to platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube.
  • Automatically convert archived sermons and live streams into on-demand content
  • Content hosting is included with professional media delivery
  • Bulk uploading
  • One-click publishing—your audio and video content will instantly appear on your apps (mobile and TV) and website with the click of a button
  • A dedicated Client Success Manager to walk with you through the process
  • Ongoing updates and technical support

If you are already utilizing the Subsplash Platform, it’s simple to add TV apps to your package. Just connect with your Client Success Manager to get started.

       

Make your TV app stand out with Subsplash

How to make your Roku and Apple TV apps stand out

Here are some qualities of the best church TV apps:

Original channel artwork—Use your church’s original designs and artwork on your channel to match your church’s branding. This distinguishes your TV app from others and helps your users feel more connected to your church. 

Featured videos—Select featured videos that capture people’s attention with unique media item artwork.

Daily or multi-day live streams—Consider offering one or more daily live streams so people can enjoy engaging with your church in real time throughout the day. 

With a TV app, individuals and groups of any size can engage with your church’s gospel-centered content on a bigger screen, creating a better, more engaging viewing experience. Plus, your app will available to a wider global audience. 

Subsplash makes it simple by creating one centralized location to manage all your engagement technology, including your Roku and Apple TV apps, custom mobile apps, live streaming, church websites, digital giving, and more—all under one roof. This means you don’t have to worry about managing multiple platforms or uploading your media to different locations. Your community will appreciate being able to comfortably stay connected any day of the week.

To see Subsplash TV Apps in action and to get some inspiration, check out these top-notch church TV apps:

Already using the Subsplash Platform? Schedule a call with your Client Success Manager to learn more about Subsplash TV Apps!

Not currently leveraging the power of the Subsplash Platform and ready to learn how to take your engagement to the next level with TV apps? Let’s chat!

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