A Guide to Funeral Livestreaming

What is the best platform for livestreaming a funeral or memorial service?  When you weigh the pros and cons, it’s generally better to choose a platform that is purpose-built for funerals.  Although there are many free platforms to choose from, such as YouTube Live and Facebook Live, the platforms that are purpose-built for funerals, such as TribuCast®, have many advantages – such as privacy, ease-of-use, portability and personalization – that far outweigh the perceived low cost/no cost options.  In addition, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) advises against using Facebook Live and YouTube Live for funeral livestreaming. The following “Definitive Guide to Funeral Livestreaming” can help families and funeral directors determine which livestreaming platform works best for their funeral or memorial needs.  So, let’s begin with pros and cons for more general use platforms for funeral livestreams:

Definitive Guide to Funeral Livestreaming Part One: General use platforms

Facebook Live for funeral livestreaming: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Free
  • Easy to use for current Facebook users
  • Can be saved for future viewers via the Facebook page where it is posted. Downloading is possible with special software and extra steps.
  • Only need a personal device (iPhone, iPad, Android phone, etc.)

Cons:

  • Only available to registered Facebook users – not everybody is on Facebook
  • Limited privacy (any “friend” can join, possibly friends of friends, or public, depending on the Facebook page settings)
  • Shows likes and dislikes, as well as comments (unless turned off). These are at best distracting, at worst upsetting to loved ones and family members
  • In exchange for “free” broadcasting, you are giving away content you should be in control of as well as the user data of every viewer which Facebook will use to push advertising they benefit from onto those who view the service.
  • Facebook Algorithms may push content inappropriate to the solemnity of the moment via advertisements, suggested videos, and posts
  • No technical support in advance of or during the actual service, which can lead to suboptimal or even disastrous results, as happened in this story.
  • No ability to personalize or contextualize the funeral livestream experience through a guest book, funeral program or other shared media that makes remote viewers feel more connected to the experience and to the deceased
  • Some music or video may be silenced, and the livestream itself could even be terminated automatically, if the Facebook Live algorithm believes the videographer is livestreaming copyrighted content – even if the user has the correct license. That is why the NFDA advises against using Facebook Live. Learn more here and here.

For even more information and analysis about Facebook Live for funerals, read our commentary here:

YouTube Live for funeral livestreaming: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Free livestreaming capability to YouTube subscribers
  • Can be made private and shared via a link
  • Can be recorded/saved for future viewers not on the YouTube Live platform via special programs (Xbox Gamebar, EaseUS RecExperts, etc.] or screen capture
  • Can use a mobile device (iPhone, iPad, Android phone, etc.) if you have a channel with at least 1,000 subscribers

Cons:

  • Most people and homes do not have a YouTube channel with 1,000 subscribers; these users must record via a webcam or desktop computer which is challenging in the context of funerals, which can take place across multiple, unwired sites
  • Like Facebook Live, in exchange for “free” broadcasting you are giving away content you should be in control of as well as the user data of every viewer which YouTube will use to push advertising onto those who viewed the service
  • The YouTube algorithm may churn up inappropriate content, including advertisements and unrelated, possibly even insensitive, or offensive, video content
  • Set up is somewhat complex for non-techies; users must have a verified Gmail account, subscribe to YouTube and choose a livestream option (public, private, unlisted)
  • Shows number likes and dislikes, and comments, although these features can be disabled
  • Shows number of views, which families may or may not like, and which could be distracting in the moment
  • No technical support either prior to or during the service
  • No ability to personalize or contextualize the livestream experience through a guest book, funeral program, or other shared media
  • Some music or video clips may be silenced automatically if the algorithm believes the videographer is illegally livestreaming copyrighted content – even if the user has the correct license. That is why the NFDA advises against using YouTube Live. Click here for more information.

For more information about YouTube Live for livestreaming funerals, read our commentary here:

Zoom for funeral livestreaming: Pros and Cons

 

Pros:

  • Free – but only for forty minutes for up to 100 attendees
  • Ability for online attendees to speak following the service; Can turn off sound or video of attendees or turn back on
  • No inappropriate advertisements or videos
  • No likes, dislikes or comments
  • Can be recorded and saved without concerns about copyrighted materials being silenced or shut down
  • Possible to do some shared media via shared screen to add personalization and context to the service

Cons:

  • Users need to consider horror stories about “Zoom bombing” and take steps to protect their meeting from unwanted guests; however, there are no guarantees. In one recent case, a password-protected Zoom of a Jewish funeral was hacked and Zoom bombed with antisemitic content; the hacking lasted ten minutes. At another funeral, remote attendees were subjected to pornography for twenty minutes when their Zoom livestream was hacked.
  • Zoom does not offer in-person technical support either before or during the funeral or memorial service. The family or funeral home must ensure the setup is optimized for a funeral (as opposed to a corporate meeting).  As such, hosts (and to some extent remote attendees) need to be very familiar with and fluid in Zoom protocols, such as setting up invitations, making sure the meeting is password protected, setting up recordings, using the waiting room, allowing or disallowing the chat function, and deciding whether to allow screen sharing, audio and/or video among attendees or not.  Families or homes must be prepared to personally manage glitches, such as attendees accidentally unmuting themselves in the middle of a service or hosts accidentally muting the rabbi or priest.
  • Most livestreamed funerals last longer than 40 minutes, so users will need a paid subscription
  • No ability to have a guest book or funeral program to welcome and include remote guests
  • Requires vigilant monitoring by the funeral home or the family to ensure a remote attendee doesn’t display content on their video stream that is inappropriate to the moment. Consider the stories of remote attendees carrying their devices into the bathroom without regard for the fact their camera is still on…

 

For an additional analysis of the pros and cons of using Zoom for streaming funerals, click here.

Definitive Guide to Funeral Livestreaming Part Two: Purpose-built platforms

TribuCast® for funeral livestreaming: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Easy to use both for funeral homes and grieving loved ones
  • Totally private. Only invited guests can participate via a secure link
  • Purpose-built for funerals
  • Funeral is recorded and available to view for 90 days, plus families can download a copy for free
  • Designed to provide the best possible outcome thanks to live technical support 365 days a year, including in-the-minute monitoring of all funerals and memorial services. TribuCast® is the only funeral livestreaming company to monitor all its funeral and memorial livestreams and to provide support to both funeral directors and loved ones before, during and after each service.
  • Completely customizable; offers opportunities to share a guest book, funeral program, obituary and other touchpoints to personalize the online experience (photos, poems, art, trophies, etc.)
  • No likes, dislikes or comments
  • No risk of offensive or unsuitable ads, videos or posts
  • No algorithms; no songs or videos will be silenced due to copyright concerns if the funeral home has a streaming license from either NFDA or ICCFA.
  • Only requires a personal device

Cons: 

  • Attendees cannot chat after the funeral – but they also cannot distract during the funeral by talking during the service and/or by fidgeting in front of a turned-on camera (Zoom issues)

 

 

One Room for funeral livestreaming: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Private
  • Purpose-built for funeral livestreaming
  • Has portable option
  • Recording available for three months; downloads available at additional cost
  • Will not silence licensed music and videos or shut down the livestream due to copyright issues
  • No risk of offensive content or advertisements

 

Cons:

  • Funeral Directors must use the company’s physical camera systems
  • Download only available for seven days; beyond that, you must contact the company
  • Download is not free
  • Limited options exist for personalization – while you can leave a tribute, no program guide, memorabilia or other content can be shared, thus diminishing the impact of the funeral service for remote audiences
  • Technical support limited; company does not monitor each funeral, and thus cannot offer in-the-moment support

 

 

MemoryShare: for funeral livestreaming: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Private but requires login credentials that some users find challenging
  • Portable
  • Purpose-built for funeral livestreaming
  • Recording available via funeral home, although videos only continue to be available if the funeral home remains subscribed to the MemoryShare services
  • Livestream can be uploaded via the funeral home obituary page
  • Will not silence licensed music and videos or shut down the livestream due to copyright issues
  • No risk of offensive content or advertisements

Cons:

  • Subscription only
  • Company does not monitor each funeral, and thus cannot offer in-the-moment support or guarantee protection against technical glitches or failure
  • Personalization options limited to obituary; no space for guest book, funeral program or any other media that would enhance and contextualize the livestream experience

FuneralVue: for funeral livestreaming: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Private but requires login credentials that some users find challenging
  • Portable
  • Purpose-built for funeral livestreaming
  • Can be recorded by funeral home and viewed for 90 days, though free download is unavailable
  • Will not silence licensed music and videos or shut down the livestream due to copyright issues
  • No risk of offensive content or advertisements

Cons:

  • Subscription only
  • Families must buy the DVD or thumb drive of the recording to access video after 90 days
  • Has technical support but does not monitor funerals nor guarantee in-the-moment support to prevent glitches or even failures
  • No options for personalization beyond embedding in online obituary – no guest book, no funeral programs, no shared media beyond the livestream.

Gather: for funeral livestreaming: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Private but requires login credentials that some users find challenging
  • Portable
  • Purpose-built for funeral livestreaming
  • Can be recorded by funeral home; unclear how long recording will remain available or whether it is available for free or for purchase via download, DVD or thumb drive
  • Can be integrated into funeral home obituary only
  • Will not silence licensed music and videos or shut down the livestream due to copyright issues
  • No risk of offensive content or advertisements

Cons:

  • Has technical support but does not monitor funerals nor does it guarantee in-the-moment support to eliminate the risk of glitches or even failure
  • No options for personalization beyond embedding the livestream in an online obituary – no guest book, no funeral programs, no shared media beyond the livestream to enhance and contextualize the livestream.
  • Not available 24/7; does not monitor funerals nor guarantee the quality of the video by providing in-the-moment support

 

 

We hope this Definitive Guide to Funeral Livestreaming has helped your home or your family to determine the answer to the question: What are the differences between livestreaming platforms for funerals and how can we choose the best option for our loved one? We think it is clear that grieving families should avoid Facebook Live and YouTube Live for funeral livestreaming, and instead rely on purpose-built platforms.  And of course, we believe that TribuCast® is the best livestreaming platform for funerals that is purpose built for the needs of Funeral Homes – and grieving families.

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