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Media Ministries

Oct 19, 2011 2:24 PM, By Cynthia Wisehart

Case Studies in Media Capture and Distribution

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Live Streaming Basics

International House of Prayer

International House of Prayer 24/7 Prayer Room


The International House of Prayer (IHOP-KC) in Kansas City, Mo., is a community of Christian believers that comprises 84 departments and outreach ministries, all supported by the IHOP media center. The heart of the ministry is the 24/7 worship, which takes place in the prayer room and is broadcast nonstop around the clock. To accomplish this, IHOP-KC relies on a six-camera digital SD installation using production teams and worship teams working in two-hour rotations.

While the 24/7 worship has been going on for 12 years, IHOP’s Peter Burch says that just four years ago, the media operation, was very different. “Instead of 24/7 live professional broadcast, we were streaming only occasional conference footage and Friday and Saturday night worship on an ad hoc basis, taking the feed from cameras directly into controllers without switching or proper monitoring,” he says. “At that time, switching feeds was a mechanical operation—manually pulling plugs. This was obviously labor intensive, hard on infrastructure, and error-prone. Broadcast quality also suffered because the transitions were ragged—every time a plug was changed, the feed went momentarily black.”

The big change occurred when GOD TV, an international Christian broadcast network, recognizing the value and potential of IHOP’s message, and asked them to develop a permanent feed comprising multiple webstreams. “At the time, we recognized this as an outstanding opportunity to extend our worldwide outreach, but it came at a literal price—we had to make a significant investment in upgrading the infrastructure of our media center. In 2007, we developed a master plan to do just that, and we have been implementing it step-by-step as funds become available ever since,” Burch explains.

While the plan continues to be implemented, today IHOP boasts a modern, digital broadcast facility built around a Utah Scientific Utah-400 V-144 router (loaded 3G HD/SD 24x48) with Utah Scientific MC-400 master control switchers. “In fact,” Burch says, “we have become one of the world’s largest web-streaming operations, streaming some 400TB of video data per month via Haivision KulaByte XStreamCast servers.” The output of eight different channels covers not only the live prayer room but also conference and event feeds from IHOP’s HD auditorium facility, external conferences, and video on demand (VoD) archive services with main and reserve feeds on all channels. The Utah Scientific router enables IHOP to manage these feeds along with recording and playback from its Nexsan iSeries storage systems.

“When we made the move to digital routing, we considered five routing and master control systems,” Burch says. “For us, as a 24/7 broadcaster, reliability is fundamental as there is literally no downtime for maintenance. In fact, the continuous nature of the operation puts a stress on every aspect of our broadcast infrastructure—in particular engineering maintenance. The Utah Scientific system was not the least expensive in terms of purchase price, but it will have the lowest overall lifetime cost. That’s because of the company’s support and maintenance policy, which includes a 10-year, no-fee warranty as well as 24/7 live support. That was unique to the Utah system.”

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