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Building Video Streaming Platform Like Twitch: Tech Stack, Features, Cost & Monetization

General | 20 min read • 23 Views • 16 April 2020
Building Video Streaming Platform Like Twitch: Tech Stack, Features, Cost & Monetization

Live video streaming platforms have become extremely popular over the past few years. Between 2016 and 2018, the time individuals spent on video streaming apps increased by 140%, according to App Annie. Statista reports the revenue in the Video Streaming market equals to almost $26 million as of 2020:

video streaming platforms revenue in 2020

What this means is that video streaming apps are one of the best markets in which you might wish to become involved. 

 

Types of Video Streaming Apps

In one of our previous posts, we’ve already discussed the video chat app features and development. As you might think that is the one type of app, there is a significant difference between them. Video chat apps allow you to have a video call with another person or group of people, while video streaming platforms broadcast to you real-time or hosted video within the platform.

So let’s start by talking about some of the different kinds of video streaming services that are available on the market.

  • Video Game Streaming Apps

Video games are tremendously popular these days. Streaming services that cater to the demographic that plays them and has an interest in them are on the rise. Twitch is a prime example of this with over  15 million daily active users. It’s a service where you can watch your favorite gamers play popular titles and comment on what they’re doing in real-time. 

  • On-Demand Mobile Video Streaming Apps

On-demand mobile video streaming apps are something that you find in more and more households. Some of the most popular ones are Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Sling.

Some on-demand mobile video streaming apps provide both video-on-demand and live television. Hulu is a prime example of this. You can watch more than fifty live TV channels, including local ones. You can also watch a full library of FX shows that come with the service.

  • Video Streaming Apps from TV Providers or Networks

There are also video streaming apps from TV providers or individual networks. These would be HBO NOW, the Starz streaming service, or Showtime streaming. Rather than paying for premium channels as part of your cable package, as was once the case, you can now buy streaming services for each premium channel.

Besides, some users use and pay for multiple services at once like Sling or Hulu for live TV, but that also pays for Twitch, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and more. In fact,  App Annie has run the survey to find out how many Netflix users watch other video streaming services:

video streaming platforms users

That means that the users’ overlap among services is growing and increasing the competition between SVoD market players for acquiring more consumers and their time spending in the app.

 

The Most Popular Video Streaming Apps

Now, let’s overview the major video streaming platforms on the market and what made them so popular.

  • Twitch

A live video streaming app like Twitch is a real moneymaker. With Twitch, there are three radically-different price tiers. They cost $4.99, $9.99, and $24.99, respectively. As we mentioned, Twitch is for video game players. You can watch the best gamers around the world as they play the most recent or retro titles. You can also chat with famous gamers and other fans in real-time.

twitch video streaming platforms

  • Hulu

Another video streaming app, Hulu, has gained a lot of traction in this competitive marketplace. As we mentioned, Hulu is both a live TV streaming service and a library of shows and movies. Because you get all of those live TV channels, you can expect to pay $54.99 per month for it. This is much more than Netflix, but if you use Hulu as a substitute for cable, it can be worth it. You get the live sports that come from the local channels, not to mention popular networks like the USA, TNT, TBS, Sci-Fi, and others.

  • Netflix

Streaming video applications like Netflix are also quite popular. Netflix costs anywhere from $8.99 per month to $12.99 per month, depending on which options you get. That’s not very much, and the reason that it’s set in that price range is that you don’t get streaming network TV with it, but the only video. Still, they have an extensive library of shows and movies, including original programming. They’ve had hits with true crime shows like Tiger King, and fantasy adaptations like The Witcher. Companies similar to Netflix have sprung up as well. They have noticed the success of this business model and capitalized off of it. 

Netflix video streaming platform

 

What Importance Does Streaming Hold for Your Business?

At this point, you might be wondering what streaming and live-streaming video services can do for your business. The reality is that its own video streaming app development can be useful in a variety of niches. There are very few professions that can’t benefit from streaming video apps in one way or another. Let’s talk about a few examples.

  • For Entertainment

Video streaming mobile app development for entertainment purposes makes a lot of sense. We already talked about a service like Twitch, where paying customers will tune in to see their favorite video game players and converse with other fans in real-time. Apps that grant access to live TV, like Hulu, or popular shows, like HBO NOW, have proven that this business model can be not just successful, but wildly profitable. If you’re thinking about how to start a streaming service like Netflix, you already know that the market is there. 

  • For Medicine

A streaming application for medicine is another viable idea that has transformed into telehealth platform development. With one of these apps, you can have a face-to-face conference with your physician, if you aren’t feeling up to visiting their office or clinic. With such a telehealth app as Telemedicine solution, you can watch a video consultation from your doctor or speak to a physician within the call. Doctors can also talk to each other this way, have vital consultations without having to travel across the world or even make live video streaming for students during the surgery. 

telemedicine video streaming platform

  • For Education

As you look at how to start a streaming service, think about the applications in an area like education. Live-streaming and video streaming for education are also quite viable. A teacher can conduct a live lesson via a streaming service in real-time, or else they can record a lesson, and the student can then tune in and watch it at their leisure. All sorts of institutions are getting in on this idea, from collegiate-level classes down through grade school.

  • For Media

Video streaming technologies and the media go hand-in-hand as well. The generations that are getting their news primarily from network broadcast television are gradually being phased out. Media entities like Fox, CNN, and MSNBC recognize that their loyal viewers will tune in and watch them via individual streaming entities, in much the same way that someone would tune into HBO NOW, Showtime, etc. Some of these business models cost money, but more news entities are relying on other sources of revenue, like advertising, to make a profit.

  • For Sports

Video streaming service providers are also looking at sports as another potentially profitable area. The WWE network would be a prime example of this. Launched six years ago, and billed as “sports entertainment,” this stand-alone subscription service costs $9.99 per month. You can watch new PPV wrestling events each month, not to mention a library of thousands of hours of old shows and original, scripted programming. Fite TV, which carries many wrestling, boxing, and MMA events, is another example.

  • For eCommerce

eCommerce is another area where video streaming has its uses. With a live streaming app, you can show your consumers how your products look in real life, rather than with just a simple photo. In such ways, you as a retailer can increase the trust in your brand and purchases in the results. Here, as for an example, can be Kohl shopping app with video streaming functionality along with instant purchase through its platform.

 

Moreover, live video broadcasting matters even for insurance agencies. We have implemented a video streaming feature for our client DropIn, the insurance company. This functionality allows insurance agents or any person who is faced with property damage to stream real-time video right at that moment to document that situation with the possibility to download it any time later.

dropin video streaming platform

What Benefits Can Video Streaming Apps Bring for Your Business?

There are many benefits to being streaming video providers, as far as what it can do for your company. Let’s go over a few of those.

  • New Source of Revenue

Video stream apps often prove to be a new source of revenue for businesses. In any of the areas about which we just spoke, video streaming means more opportunities. If you are in the education niche, then you can create a video streaming service and charge your subscribers for test prep or English as second language instruction. If you have a store, and you want to get into eCommerce, then you can set up a video streaming service to do in-person shopping for someone who can’t go there in-person. If you provide any sort of consultation like legal, financial, or business, with video streaming apps you can provide consultations online.

There are many more examples, but the point is that if you get creative with it, there are hardly any businesses that won’t see a profit if they sink some capital into such a venture.

  • Access More Users Globally

If you have brick-and-mortar locations in one physical locale or one part of the country, and you want to expand, then it is a video streaming app that will allow you to do that. Once you have developed a business model where you can offer products or services through the app, then you can reach a much broader audience than you ever did before.

Maybe you are offering physical products, and you can ship them to your new customer base once they become aware of you through your app. Perhaps you can offer tutorials or other valuable video content through the app, and you can make your money through ad revenue.

  • Higher User Retention

Video stream apps are the most often used by users on a regular basis comparing any other type of app as according to the above-mentioned research. 

time spent in video streaming platform

Moreover, users spend even less time on social media apps than in video broadcasting applications. And do that day after day. On average users spend up to 3 hours per day in such apps as Netflix or Twitch and can spend up to 12 hours in Tik-Tok. That is crazy numbers but it even is expected to grow more.

time users spent in video streaming platform

Technologies for Building Video Streaming Apps

Now, let’s go over some of the technology that currently exists that will allow you to create one of these video streaming apps about which we have been speaking.

The Data-Processing Pipeline 

Applications for real-time data streaming serve as a medium between users and publishers. For users to have a rewarding experience, any lag time must be reduced. 

This presents a significant technical challenge. For the sake of proximity, original data must be copied across hundreds of servers around the world. Latency elimination is only half the picture, though. A thriving ecosystem of technologies must be in place to facilitate data analytics and algorithms to customize such services.

Data streams need fault-tolerant processing, storage, and geographical distribution. Because of this, processing frameworks need to rely on queuing systems like Apache Kafka. 

This is a system that you should consider if you’re coding a streaming website. You can use it to build real-time streaming apps and data pipelines. 

Processing frameworks like Samza, Storm, Flink, or Spark can be integrated with a streaming platform to feed the data-processing pipeline and process batch data.

For instance, Netflix utilizes Kafka as an event-processing pipeline and a real-time monitoring tool. It uses the microservice architecture, which is based on micro-batch processing.

 

Caching and Databases 

Caching is used to offset frequently-performed operations. Cassandra, Amazon S3, AWS SimpleDB, and MySQL storage services are the tools of choice. They each ensure security, data availability, and scalability.

To prevent users from getting frustrated, content delivery networks, also called CDNs, are implemented. This is a type of network service that allows essential content to be kept in several globally-distributed data centers. It makes it more accessible to end-users, and they can download it faster as well.

cdn for video streaming platform

To prevent users from getting frustrated, content delivery networks, also called CDNs, are implemented. This is a type of network service that allows essential content to be kept in several globally-distributed data centers. It makes it more accessible to end-users, and they can download it faster as well.

 

Programming Languages 

There are several programming languages that you can utilize if you intend on creating a video streaming app. Some of the most popular ones are HTML/CSS, JavaScript - for web interface development, Python, C++, Go, Ruby on Rails - for backend development of web video streaming platforms, Java and Swift for Android and iOS mobiles apps. So make sure that your development team considers these popular languages and frameworks to be sure your app tech stack is not outdated, you can support your application and scale it up in the future.

 

Social Media Platform APIs

Integration with social media platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter through their official APIs is a smart idea for your app. This will allow your company to reach out to wider audiences. You can retain existing users while acquiring new ones. 

 

Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP)

RTMP is a proprietary protocol. It ensures fast, smooth transmission of audio and video streams between servers and users. It also allows you to embed a video stream on a third-party platform, such as a Facebook feed or YouTube channel.

 

WebSocket Protocol

This protocol is put in place so you can manage all user actions within the various types of streaming apps. With it, you don’t have to utilize too much server power. You can save that for stream delivery.

 

VideoCore Library

The VideoCore Library feature lets you enable users to add drawings and apply filters to the video stream.

 

Mobile Payment Gateways

Some form of a mobile payment gateway is vital for your video streaming app. If you have a product or service that you are selling through the app, or have paid subscription then there should be an easy, convenient way for users to pay with a credit card or PayPal right in the app.

 

Video Streaming App Features

There are a great many video streaming features that you should consider when you are planning out your application. Let’s briefly go over some of the most valuable for users:

  • Onboarding

Onboarding is vital that new users learn more about your app before starting using it. But keep in mind that the onboarding process should be easy, intuitive and fast.

  • Registration

Registering through your app should also be as easy as possible for the user. If it can’t be done within a few seconds, then a new user might get frustrated and leave.

  • User Accounts

The creation of each new user account shouldn’t take any more than a few seconds.

  • Video Library

A video library that’s readily accessible for your users is essential. Humans find visual content stimulating, which is why platforms like YouTube have become so popular.

  • Watch Lists

Once you begin to establish what one of your app users likes to watch, then a recommended watch list feature will come in handy. They will appreciate your suggestions.

  • Broadcast

A broadcasting feature is certainly something to consider for your app. If you want to interact with your users more directly, then a live show with someone noteworthy from your company or within your niche is bound to attract some positive attention for your brand. 

  • Chat

The chat feature allows users to interact during broadcasts. They can speak with each other in real-time as they absorb what the guest is saying.

  • Rate

This feature helps users to give reviews of broadcasters they like. Based on this feedback, you’ll be able to tell how popular each broadcast is, and you’ll know which guests to bring back. 

  • Search and Discover

This feature allows an app user to follow their friends and get notified when they go live or share videos.

  • Watch On-Demand

Once you’ve put a simple file-navigation system in place, app users can watch videos on demand from your library.

  • Download

There should be a simple system for downloading content that is not already available. 

  • Cloud-Based DVR

A cloud-based DVR system should be in place so users can record shows through your app that are airing live. The Cisco Infinite Video Platform and the Velocix Origin are two popular options that you could implement in your video streaming app.

  • Screen Mirroring

This feature allows your users to send content from their phones to a bigger screen, like their TV, for instance. This feature is sometimes called wireless screen mirroring. It involves sending information from a user’s mobile device or computer to a monitor or TV screen via Wi-Fi. You can enable this functionality with the Google Cast SDK. It was designed for apps that support Google's Chromecast HDMI dongle. This option lets developers extend their iOS, Android, or Chrome apps to stream audio and video content to a sound system or TV. The app works like a remote control that manages playback. You can also enable screen mirroring with AirPlay if you’re using Media Player APIs. This is an alternative to Google Cast that works with supported iOS apps and Apple TV.

  • Social Features

You should afford your users the opportunity to apply comments to shows and movies and rate them. App users usually enjoy sharing what they liked and disliked via social networks. 

 

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Video Streaming Service?

At this point, you’re probably wondering how much it costs to develop a live streaming app like Twitch or Hulu. The average price of the median app development is around $171,450, according to a Clutch survey. But keeping in mind that this kind of app is not a median and needs advanced implementation and a lot of features then the cost for the app can raise between $200,000 and $350,000.

But if your budget is tight, the best option for you can be to start with MVP development for your video streaming platform. It could cost between $10,000 and $50,000, but can bring you investments and revenue for full-scale app development.

Many factors will go into the total price. You’ll have to think about what features you want it to have and how complex you want it to be. More features mean more time spent on development. You should also think about the size of the development team and whether it will be an in-house team or distributed dev team with which you can fill some skills gap quickly or reduce your IT costs.

 

Live Video Streaming App Monetization Models

When you’re looking at how to create a streaming platform, you should also spend some time thinking about monetization models for your app. You’ll undoubtedly have to think about the cash outlay at the beginning of the project, but you should also have in mind the money you can make on the back end once the app launches. 

  • Paid Apps: Having your users pay to download the app is not one of the more popular options, but you can at least consider it. Some might be willing to come up with a one-time fee.
  • Subscriptions: Making your app a subscription service is another way to go. A monthly fee that seems reasonable for the service you are providing should not be too onerous for your users. It’s a very common strategy of video services monetization as Netflix does:

netflix subscription model

  • Live Consultations: This is a paid model that works well in the areas of mHealth, remote banking, and legal advice. The app itself is free, but a one-on-one consultation with an expert is not.
  • Paid In-App Channels: This is a model where the app is free, but then the user pays for tutorials, live parties, concerts, etc.
  • Paid In-App Content: With this model, the app is free, but the user pays nominal fees to dress it up in various ways. They might be willing to pay for things like strikers, banners, or virtual accessories to customize the app. For example Twitch Prime or Youtube premium that provides a paid content, you can subscribe for.
  • Promotion and Ads: Promoted content or advertising within the app is a way for you to make money from other companies that would like to be associated with your brand. They might pay for the option of having a branded channel or branded stories within your app as it’s on Twitch

twitch in-app ads

  • Donations: You can also set up the app so that it collects for a charity. Maybe you have a crowdfunding feature on there or some other means of support for a particular cause. 
  • Affiliate: You can recommend some other affiliate services or goods within your video app.

 

Is it time to create your own video streaming service? That is a question only you can answer. You now know what features these apps need and what technology goes into making them. 

If you’re ready to start setting up your video streaming app, then be sure to reach out to the dev team with rich experience in the web development of these kinds of apps. You can check it in our project portfolio. Maybe you’ll want to do an app like Twitch, that appeals to gamers. Perhaps you’ll focus on appealing to a different customer base. 

 

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