Video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video are killing traditional TV. As of January 2019, 139 million people were paying Netflix each month for access to their vast library of content. And Netflix’s subscriber base is growing every year. You can create your own video streaming service to get a share of this rapidly growing market

Is there room in the video streaming market?

The market for video streaming is huge. According to Grand View Research, the global video streaming market will reach $125 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 19.6% from 2019. Netflix is currently the biggest player in this market, alongside other competitors including:

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Hulu
  • Disney+
  • HBO Now
  • YouTube TV

After seeing Netflix’s success and discovering the demand, other large companies started to invest in streaming services. It’s no surprise: in 2019 alone, Netflix made $18.87 billion in revenue, and the company’s annual revenue is increasing by 27% each year.

However, this success comes at a price: Netflix borrows billions of dollars each year to produce a massive amount of content, releasing new TV shows monthly. By 2018, Netflix has produced nearly 15,400 titles.

netflix
Netflix is growing rapidly due to its TV show library and a convenient and functional platform

These are large numbers, especially for startup that’s an aspiring TV streaming business. I mention them to show how big the market opportunities are. You don’t have to throw billions of dollars at video production to build a TV show streaming app and make it successful. It’s impossible for smaller streaming services to compete with large corporations, but you can still succeed.

You don’t have to throw billions of dollars at video production to build a TV show streaming app and make it successful

Many smaller services choose to fill a niche. For example, CuriosityStream is focused on documentaries, and its main competitors are Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. CuriosityStream was launched in 2015 and already features 2,500 original titles.

In this article, you’ll learn how to start your own streaming service. I’ll talk about how to build an app like netflix, what features you need and how much it will cost to implement them. I’ll point out some advice on unobvious details you should pay attention to before starting movie streaming app development.

Must-have features of a streaming app

MVP features for a mobile app

 
Login and registration
Allow your users to register with your service in a few different ways: email, phone number, or a social media or messenger account. The methods you offer for registering and logging in should depend on your target audience. Login functionality also includes functionality for password restoration.

streaming app like netflix login
Email, phone number and social media networks are the most popular ways to sign up and log in

 
User profiles
A user profile in a streaming app should include information about the user’s activity in your app: recently viewed episodes and favorite TV shows. To save space in your interface, you can also add settings to the user profile.

 
Favorites
Allow users to add TV shows to their favorites. To make this feature more advanced, you can let users create folders such as “Watch later.”

streaming app suggestions
Analyze your users’ favorite shows to suggest new ones and keep them using your app

Video player
I’ll talk about video players more in the next section, but the main idea is that your player should work on any device and use a standard and widely supported file format.

Payment gateway
Your TV show streaming business will most likely get revenue from subscriptions. To provide easy and fast payments, you’ll need to integrate a payment gateway. I advise using a popular gateway that works everywhere, as your audience is likely to come from various countries. Braintree, Stripe, and PayPal are the most convenient options.

Screenshot blocker
You’ll need to invest in licensed content for your business to succeed, and protecting it is part of this investment. A screenshot blocker prevents users from making screenshots or recording their screen while your app is active.

Comments
The ability to leave comments on each episode or show allows your audience to communicate and engage with your app. This increases interest in your content and affects both the retention rate and the time spent in your app.

Push notifications
Integrate push notifications to reach out to your customers. Tell them about everything from upcoming releases and new recommendations to new episodes of their favorite shows. Push notifications also help with retention. To increase the open rate, implement rich push notifications that contain media.

push notifications streaming app
Retain your users with the help of enticing push notifications

Search and filters
Your users should be able to easily find the next show they want to watch either by name or by category, genre, or some other parameter. The best practice is to implement predictive search that suggests shows based on the first characters a user types in the search box.

Settings
Settings allow a user to personalize their experience with your app. You shouldn’t provide too many settings, but users should be able to control features like push notifications and the language of audio streams and subtitles.

settings streaming app
Allow users to manage their profiles and the way your app uses Wi-Fi or cellular data

Subscription logic
Your subscription logic will depend on your business model. There are a few options. One is to provide a free trial and then require a subscription for continued access to content.

Another is to provide some content for free and provide premium content with a subscription.
A streaming service usually offers three or more subscription options: for example, a monthly or annual subscription.

subscription service free trial video streaming
Often streaming platforms or any other subscription-based services offer free trial to get a user hooked

Multilingual support
If you plan to attract an international audience to your streaming service, be sure to support multiple languages. Your app can recognize the system language of a user’s device and change its own language accordingly.

Features to add later

Content suggestion logic
Some streaming services suggest random content to their users. This works, but not as well as personalized suggestions derived from a user’s preferences and viewing history. Adding smart suggestion logic is a challenge, but is also highly beneficial.

If you plan to build app like Netflix, you’ll need to come up with your own solution: Netflix keeps it a secret how their recommendation engine works because it’s what hooks people on their service.

netflix suggestions
The best way to automate the content suggestion process is to pair machine learning with AI

To implement content suggestion functionality, you’ll need to implement machine learning and tag every piece of content in your library with relevant labels: drama, strong female lead, sci-fi, etc. Then you’ll need to link all this information to your analytics and segment your users to make the suggestion process easier.

Offline functionality
This feature should allow users to download content to watch later, for example during a flight when there’s no internet. Make sure, however, that the content is saved in a way so that it can’t be accessed and shared outside the app.

Geoblocking
Some content might be restricted to a certain region. To make sure your user experience is smooth and that users don’t need to turn on a VPN to watch your shows, block geolocation when your app is on. This will make all your content accessible for all users.

Ratings and reviews
The primary way in which people decide what to watch next is ratings. Add ratings to your streaming service and allow people to leave feedback.

ratings streaming service
Ratings help users to choose the next show and thus keep them in your app

Social sharing
After you create an app like Netflix, you’ll need to attract an audience. Grow your user base in the most effective way: by word of mouth on social media. With social sharing, users will be able to send their friends links to shows they like, attracting new subscribers to your platform.

Admin panel features

Login
Depending on who will manage your service, you’ll need to create separate accounts for administrators. If needed, you can provide different levels of access to different administrators.

Content management
Manage the content on your service: upload new shows, episodes and movies, add cover images and descriptions, and place the most popular content on the main screen. You should also be able to manage categories.

Analytics
To make sure your business is growing, you should have a dashboard with information about your users’ behavior, conversion rates, retention rates, number of active users, number of downloads, and revenue flow.

Comment management
Moderate comments on your service to make sure they comply with your platform’s policies.

User management
Manage the users of your streaming service: see all the information in their profiles, ban accounts that are violating your policies, etc.

Push notifications
Send free push notifications to all users or selected groups. Manage your push notifications, schedule them, or send them after a certain event. For example, when a new episode is out, you can send a notification to users that are watching the show or have it in their favorites.

Things to consider during development

Simple design
Develop a movie streaming app with users in mind. Your design should be simple yet recognizable. Think of Netflix. Its UI/UX is plain and intuitive. Make sure your design helps users find something they want to watch.

Format
The file format you choose for your videos should be supported by all devices and operating systems.

Sufficient bandwidth
The speed at which videos load is the most important metric for your service. You may have the best shows and movies and the most beautiful UI, but if you keep users waiting, it’s a 100% guarantee of failure. You should have sufficient bandwidth so users can stream videos immediately and start at any place without having to load the whole file.

streaming service app bandwidth
There are Netflix’s recommendations for bandwidth

This amount of bandwidth will be expensive, but it’s absolutely necessary for all types of modern video streaming services.

Variable quality
You should provide multiple quality options for your videos. Moreover, your app should be able to change the quality of the stream automatically if the internet connection isn’t perfect to avoid buffering.

Several CDN options
Use multiple CDNs and avoid downtime by switching between them. Options include Cloudflare, BunnyCDN, StackPath, and KeyCDN.

CDN for streaming service mobile
CDN is a content delivery network that delivers videos to mobile devices through HLS

Suitable player
Don’t change your player after you’ve launched your app. It’s better to choose carefully before you launch and stick with your choice. If you switch players, you’ll spend too much time adapting your content, and this will affect the user experience. Possible options for players are Flowplayer, JW Player, and Video.js.

Encoding
You should also be consistent with the way you encode your videos. We advise HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) instead of HDS (HTTP Dynamic Streaming). HLS supports more devices and has better performance in general.

How much does it cost to create a streaming app?

The cost of app development depends on several factors:

  • Design
  • Technology stack
  • Set of features
  • Hourly rate of developers
  • Development timeline

The most significant variable here is the hourly rate of the development company. See how hourly rates differ depending on the region:

how much a mobile app costs
The price for app development depends mostly on the developer’s location

Because of differences in rates, the same app with the same feature set developed with the same technology stack can cost from $20,000 to $100,000 depending on the country where the development company is situated.

In general, the price for the MVP version of a TV show streaming app starts at $25,000 to $35,000 for one platform. If you want to save money, you can create an application like Netflix using Flutter. This will save you around 40% of your budget when developing apps for both Android and iOS, because Flutter is cross-platform.

The cost of backend development for a video streaming app depends heavily on the technologies, protocols, and third-party services you use. The same goes for an admin panel and website.

Final thoughts

Every year, more and more people abandon their cable and satellite TV for good and subscribe to streaming services that bring them great content whenever they want it. Though there are already many big players in this industry, the market is far from saturated.

If you want to make an app like Netflix and create your own streaming service, you need to do three main things:

  • Find your niche and come up with a business plan
  • Purchase or create licensed content
  • Develop software that will seamlessly deliver that content

In this article, I talked about creating high-quality software that will help you achieve your business goals. I described the most important features for a video streaming mobile app and website and gave you an idea of how you can improve your service by adding other features.

The most important aspect of your service is video playback, so you need a right technology stack to deliver content effectively

Building an app like Netflix requires advanced technical skills, because streaming is a rather complex technology that needs correct architecture and wise technical decisions.

Remember that the most important aspect of your service is video playback, so make sure you choose the right technology stack for the fastest and most effective video streaming.

If you don’t know what protocols, CDNs, and file formats are the best for your solution, be sure to contact us. We’ll advise you on the most suitable options and provide you with a detailed feature-by-feature cost and time estimate. Our business analysis department can also provide recommendations on how to start a streaming service like Netflix beyond just technical aspects.

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