In our Google-centric world, people can always find something worth their care. There are multiple TV shows, movies, and series that turn the most boring evening into exciting. Besides, modern TVs have built-in Internet, so users don’t need to flip the channels for hours to find interesting movies. But how to select the best service to watch the favorite series with superior streaming quality?
Today Netflix service is attracting viewers across the globe. Why is it so popular among the users? The platform offers a magnificent library of high-quality movies, shows, and series across a broad range of genres. People can access their favorite content anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected device. The success story of Netflix has inspired many entrepreneurs to create similar online streaming services yet add new features to step out of Netflix’s shadows.
This post will dive into streaming app development stages as Netflix, backed with needed features and technology stack. You’ll also know how it costs to design a movie streaming website and mobile app similar to Netflix Disney+, Hangouts, TikTok, and Instagram Stories. Let’s roll.
How does Netflix Streaming Perform?
Netflix stands for subscription video on demand service. It’s the largest streaming entertainment service with an impressive database of cartoons and films. It offers a monthly subscription, giving access to unlimited video content. Netflix can perform on different gadgets and run across all operating systems ( e.g., Android, iOS, Windows, Smart TV, etc.).
The service provides free access to all TV series for the first users during the month. After the user subscription ends on its expiration date, automated subscription and purchases are incorporated into the application. For instance, if you are subscribed through iTunes, payment is processed via an iTunes account.
The video content is constantly updated. Netflix provides more excellent opportunities than it may seem at first sight:
- You can look for the movies in the already existing library or apply an advanced search engine that enhances searches’ accuracy due to operators that fine-tune keywords. Moreover, viewers can filter their results by specific parameters — genre, period, actor, county, and so on;
- The service can offer users new TV series and documentaries based on the CineMatch system that arranges the results on users’ preferences;
- Users are allowed to make up to five separate profiles in a single account;
- Netflix has many streaming videos.
Creating several profiles enables your family members, friends, and other acquaintances to have their own Netflix experience that is made based on their films preferences. The service also makes it possible to add your personalized search categories. For example, if you rate the TV shows viewed, the platform will be able to sort out movies you like more accurately.
How to Develop an App like Netflix
When deciding to build a streaming app, you can choose from two main options: out-of-the-box and custom software.
Here are the steps to make a Netflix-like app based on a template:
- Select a template. The video on-demand platforms template already has a class of features and tabs necessary for effective content management.
- Brand your streaming entertainment app. Make sure the design of your website or mobile app (color scheme, images, etc.) corresponds to common design concepts.
- Build software. Add all required elements users need from your application (search bar, listing, sign in, create a profile, subscription, and more).
- Release your product. Launch your app on the target audience to validate the project’s idea and gather initial feedback.
Even though ready-to-use solutions require less investment and reduce to market, they can’t meet all the business needs. This is because such products are designed for the mass market rather than a specific organization. In turn, custom branding video-on-demand (VOD) solutions consider individual business requirements and allow you to save money in the long run.
The custom video streaming service development process consists of the following steps:
- Follow the right strategy to deploy streaming app development;
- Choose an appropriate business model;
- Decide on tech stack to make streaming service like Netflix;
- Implement MVP features to create the skeleton of your future project;
- Consider all essential requirements to reduce delays;
- Keep up with valuable tips to make your app successful.
How to Start a Business Like Netflix
I will guide you through the main points you should consider before creating an app like Netflix.
Find Your Niche
Before actually validating an idea within your market, all you’re doing is guessing. In order to build a successful streaming entertainment service, you need to decide what type of streaming specificity to choose. Video on demand is a general idea, and you should determine the field of activity. What does it mean? You need to define what kinds of movies or TV shows your streaming application or website will broadcast. Or you would want to make a streaming service for kids, and it will contain cartoons and educational programs.
It’s crucial to make a choice. Of course, you can design your own streaming service that will cover all potential niches. Still, personal specificity will allow you to stand out from the competitors and attract more users.
Create Media Content
When you plan to learn how to make a video streaming platform like Netflix, you should define your video content. Because content is the heart of every video streaming service, and it depends on content how winning your platform will be. Firstly, you need to decide how often your video content will be updated — daily, weekly, or monthly. Are you going to add all TV series or everything at once? Will your content be partially accessible for free, or will it be necessary for users to pay for watching?
Get Licensing for Videos
Indeed, you must comply with all guide guidelines and regulations to avoid being blocked. For this purpose, you need to receive licenses for all kinds of video content you’re planning to publish. How to get licensed?
There are two ways to get the license for your on-screen performance:
- You can rent the films directly from a distributor that are allowed to provide such permission;
- You can reach the copyright owner directly
Both options are fine, and the final choice will depend on your preferences and the peculiarities each model has. In case you decide to rent media content from a legal distributor, there are two primary US-based distributors:
If you pick up the second option, you will need to negotiate with the studio that is the right holder of certain video content.
Bear in mind that there are different types of licenses. For instance, the studio can sell you rights for one TV series season. However, it can be beneficial if you see these series don’t gain popularity among the viewers. In that case, you can just remove it without license renewal. Besides, you should be aware of exclusive distribution rights on movies. It’s when only one media streaming service has permission on the public performance of this or that film. Moreover, licensing may be limited to specific regions. Thus, you won’t be allowed to broadcast the movies in your region. So consider all these details.
Additionally, if you want to become as popular as Netflix, you’ll need to spend a large amount of money on content licensing. For instance, the platform spent $11.8 billion on content and is expected to spend 17 billion by the end of 2021. At the same time, Netflix got $25 billion in revenue in 2020, so the investment was paid off. However, you’ll need to grow your startup step-by-step and monitor the business growth to be able to purchase famous movies and TV series that are usually high-priced.
Consider the Style
You will need to think over your future platform’s design concept and general style. There are two ways to come up with the style of your website or app:
- Apply a style similar to Netflix. You can find ready-to-use templates and ask your vendor to put this design concept into your project.
- Design your own style from scratch. Experienced UI/UX designers you work with can create an exclusive style for your future video streaming platform. It will cost you more than using a ready-made design but will allow you to deliver your own brand style different from rivals. Moreover, there is a risk somebody can apply the same template as you, and your project will drown in thousands of similar copies.
Consider All Platforms
If you’re planning to create a Netflix-like website, it also makes sense to build a mobile application as well. There is no need to demonstrate a statistic, as you know that the majority of people prefer using mobile devices over PCs. This means a mobile version of your streaming service is a must-have. Even though a responsive website provides users with a native-like experience, it still has some restrictions compared to native mobile apps on iOS and Android.
Concentrate on Your Target Market
Finally, it’s crucial to define your target audience to know who you’re making the streaming service for. Thus, you need to determine a group of users with similar interests and problems to understand who you design the app for and what features should be implemented to meet their expectations.
Identifying a target user by applying as many parameters as possible, will help you establish your video streaming platform in the long run. So, how to determine your potential users right? There are two possible approaches:
Online research. There are a lot of resources on the Internet that enable you to find, collect, and scrutinize the information of large groups of individuals for free. Begin with gathering basic information (age, gender, location, languages, income, education, and occupation) and then delve into details (personality, behavior, values, habits, struggles, and so on).
Test and learn. This approach involves an MVP version of your video streaming platform that you can test on your target audience and then conclude based on the customers’ behavior. You’ll need to organize a focus group, prepare interview questions, and provide testing equipment. Even though it’s expensive, you’ll receive accurate outcomes.
The next question is, where can you find your target audience? Here are some popular ways:
- Social media. You can share the information about your service on popular social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to promote your brand and attract the right audience.
- YouTube. This video-sharing platform is a great engine to promote your video streaming services, so consider YouTube to create a loyal community before realizing your subscription video-on-demand (VOD) website.
- Provide newsletters. Send your potential clients an email detailing all information about your product, but bear in mind, the letter should be presentable and catchy.
Hence, you will attract your audience quickly. Then, you can move to the business model you should follow to comprehend how to build your own streaming entertainment service.
Popular Business Models
I hope you understand that drawing the Netflix-like business model doesn’t guarantee you immediate success. Of course, it takes some time to transform a startup into a lead generation machine and make a good profit. So bear in mind that if you plan to build a service resembling Netflix, you will need to spend a few years to scale your business and make it profitable.
You should also remember that there is no sense in creating a good copy if there is a well-used one. Nobody stops you (and it’s right) from following the competitors and learning from their experience. However, it’s better to focus on a unique market proposal and add unique functionalities.
Monetization of video platforms implies a subscription-based model when users get access to the movies based on the plan they choose. For instance, viewers can be charged a monthly or annual fee. But the freemium model should also be considered. Customers should be allowed to watch restricted video content for free during the month. You can either suggest your users subscribe to all video lists or only its part. It will enable you to manage monetization.
That is why you have to consider the creation of plans for consumers, automatic service charging, free trial version, bonuses, and video advertising.
Moreover, your platform must accept different currencies and be integrated with several payment gateways to enable local currency support.
The types of monetization models can vary depending on the types of streaming services. Here is the most popular ‘service-model’ combination:
- Content streaming — content subscription and video purchase;
- Group video calls — subscription;
- 1:1 video calls — advertisements and one-off purchase;
- Live streaming — advertisements.
As you know, business is connected with money-losing risks. But this risk is justified if you earn more than you invest. But before investing money, you need to understand the lifetime value of your clients. This way, you will be able to optimize your profit and understand how to build a streaming service like Netflix.
Enhancing of Customer Lifetime Value
Keeping up with specific events that your customers attend, you may notice such a pattern: the more time people spend on the Internet, the more they are likely to pay for the streaming services in the long run. Thus, if you want to raise your income, you will need to monitor each customer. For example, the Netflix churn rate is 2,4% which is low compared to Hulu’s 4%.
The marketing campaign is an excellent way to develop your startup. But before investing a tidy sum into promotion, you have to elaborate scrutiny of your business model of the future streaming platform like Netflix. It’s not sufficient just to define the client’s lifetime value. You need to identify the lifetime value of consumers that come from different marketing channels. It will allow you to understand how many clients you can get from each sales channel. Video streaming app development is a costly and challenging process, where an elaborated marketing strategy is the key to success.
Tools to Create a Streaming Application
Now, let’s take a look at the tech stack that can be used to make streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Hangouts, Instagram Stories, and TikTok.
It’s worth noting that I’ve indicated the approximate list of tools you can employ to deliver your own streaming software solution. Why? Video streaming app development is a tricky thing. Each project is unique and should be discussed individually, even if the software has similar features. No developer can tell you the exact tech stack for building an SVOD website until they know the requirements and feature set.
- Netflix, Hulu, Disney+: Web (NodeJS, C#), mobile (Kotlin for Android, Swift for iOS), LG TV (C#, React), Samsung TV (Node.JS, React).
- Hangouts: Web (NodeJS), mobile (Kotlin for Android, Swift for iOS).
- Instagram Stories, TikTok: Web (NodeJS), mobile (Kotlin for Android, Swift for iOS).
Many software development companies apply 3rd-party services to accelerate the development process and deliver a well-balanced streaming app MVP. In addition, third-party APIs enable software developers to implement various tools into digital products. Here are some examples of third-party integration tools depending on content type.
- Content streaming (Netflix, Hulu, Disney): AWS;
- Group video calls (Hangouts): Web RTC + Socket.io, Agora.io;
- Live streaming (Instagram Stories, TikTok): AWS, Wowza.
Streaming MVP Development Cost
Streaming services like Netflix require a solid backend to process streaming data transfer. The final cost of building a streaming application will depend on the number of features and its complexity. The more opportunities it provides, the more expensive the development is. So when you’re a startup, it’s better to create an MVP version of your streaming platform. It contains only basic functionality needed to validate your idea in general yet spend less money. Then, after you start getting profit, you can reinvest in developing advanced features.
To help you determine the budget range, I’ve prepared a short estimate based on the MVP features needed for such a streaming website. The prices are calculated based on the average $50/hour rate in Eastern Europe, Ukraine.
- To build a website like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, developers will need, on average, 1,432 hours. Given the number of hours, it will cost you $71,600 to deliver similar projects. The price is based on two platforms (iOS and Android) and includes one server cost.
- It takes approximately 1,050 hours to make a Hangouts-like app. The price is $52,500. The sum is based on one platform (Android or iOS) and includes one server cost.
- It requires approximately 1,180 hours to make a streaming service resembling Instagram Stories and TikTok. The price starts from $59,000. The price is based on one platform (Android or iOS) and includes one server cost.
It’s always better to have an app running on both mobile platforms to attract as many users as possible. But when you launch an MVP platform, it’s reasonable to select one operating system. Moreover, you need also consider making a video streaming website, since most people use web versions to watch TV series or movies.
Many startups come up with the idea, start building their app right away, and then fail because the UI/UX design doesn’t satisfy users’ needs. Don’t try to impress your potential clients. Instead, design a streaming service as easy to use as possible, with no unnecessary elements. Viewers have to focus on performing purposeful actions, not striving to understand how to navigate and use your platform.
Now, let’s discuss the core features needed to build SVOD like Netflix.
It is the first and must-have feature that can’t be neglected. Users should be able to access the platform through different ways: email, phone number, and social media platforms. Furthermore, it’s necessary to provide personal data (name, surname, email, location, etc.) and set a password. Besides, customers need to agree on Terms and Conditions and be able to ask questions via a Help Screen.
There is no sense in adding a payment gateway into your mobile application if you’re going to employ an OS from Apple and Google. Android and iOS offer their own payment services, enabling performing purchases in App Stores per one click. But, users need to create personal profiles to make payments. Moreover, Apple and Google provide developers with unique frameworks allowing the use of their APIs. Thus, all financial operations are processed in Google Play Store and Apple App Store. However, you’ll be charged 30% of all purchases’ total amount in an application.
If you’re going to create a website as well, you can apply to one of the payment gateway providers as PayPal or Stripe. However, you have to get a PCI DSS certification to handle client finance information. This document is a must even if you’re utilizing a highly secure payment gateway. To get certified, you need to pass through a complex verification process.
The viewers should be allowed to add their favorite films, cartoons, series, and so on. Besides, make it possible for them to add more people to their accounts in order those ones have access to their own video lists without making new accounts.
Add a powerful search engine to allow users to find the desired content quickly. Customers won’t use your streaming platform if the search flow is too complicated. Here are some additional features to enhance the searching process:
- Filtering. Filters make the search process as flexible as possible. It allows users to look for movies that meet their specific needs like genres, actors, user reviews, etc.
- Sorting. This feature arranges search results in a particular order. Subscribers can prioritize results by specific parameters.
Chat and comments
It’s important to implement online chat to enable user-user communication for sharing impressions or giving recommendations. Besides, clients should be able to leave reviews and comments.
Push notifications and alerts are a great way to earn more and deliver an enhanced customer experience at the same time. Here are some ideas on how they can be applied in your streaming app:
- Movies novelty alerts. You can notify users of new films or series released.
- Special offers and discounts. Users can be informed about upcoming sales that can interest them.
Users should be able to choose audio track, subtitles on/off, play/pause, rewind, volume control, etc.
When making a streaming service like Netflix, make it possible for users to select the appropriate language. The more languages are available, the more users you will have.
Screenshot block features prevent screenshots or screen recordings from being taken. Moreover, it decreases the possibility of copying your video content by third parties.
Admin panel is a must-have feature since it provides access to all your digital content to host, manage and edit videos as well as control, block viewers if necessary, and a lot more.
Create a Streaming App With Broader Functionality
I’ve mentioned the must-have features for your future streaming service. Of course, it’s impossible to create an app like Netflix without the above functionalities. But, if you want to enrich your platform and implement more sophisticated features, here are some of them that you can consider.
You already know how to build a Netflix-type system and how much it costs. Now, let’s look at the estimates of streaming platforms like Netflix, Hangout, Instagram Stories, and TikTok with advanced functionality.
Like the MVP version estimate, the price is based on $50 per hour.
- Netflix, Hulu, Disney+. It takes, on average, 2,655 hours to build a streaming service with extended functionality. The price is $133,250.
- To build a website like Hangouts, developers will need, on average, 2,949 hours. Given the number of hours, it will cost you $147,450 to deliver a similar project with additional features.
- Instagram Stories, TikTok. It takes around 2,281 hours to implement additional functionalities. The price starts from $114,050.
Here are the features you may integrate into your product after releasing an MVP or even earlier (if you have enough money).
Users should be able to share news and reviews through social media. This feature will allow you to reach a broader audience and deliver a great user experience.
Reviews and ratings
You can rate a TV series or film, creating your own rating based on your clients’ opinions.
Live streaming video
You can consider adding live streaming features allowing users to watch their favorite TV shows, sports events, and so on live.
Content suggestion algorithm
You can integrate something similar to Netflix’s CineMatch system that suggests videos to users based on their recent viewing history and search requests. The best way to build a recommendation list is to allow viewers to leave likes and dislikes. If a user dislikes the videos, they won’t appear in their feed anymore. On the contrary, the relevant content will be shown on the main page.
It’s a great option if you handle a vast amount of digital property accessible online. Hence, there may be a need to limit some videos from being watched from specific regions due to licensing agreements. The clients’ location can be defined based on IP address, user profile information, and measuring ping. Besides, this feature makes it possible to produce target audience-oriented content.
Users can save movies on their devices (smartphones, PC, or tablets) to watch them when the Internet is unavailable.
Video quality makes significant steps these days. UHD screens, which have been high-priced a couple of years ago, are available at an affordable price today. That’s why if you’re wondering how to create a video streaming service like Netflix, it’s highly recommended to consider 4K resolution content. You can also think about the HDR contributing to color saturation and high picture quality. For instance, you can offer a basic subscription plan with Full-HD only and a subscription plan with 4K and HDR included.
Points to Consider When Creating Streaming Platform
How to build your own Netflix-like app and succeed? It’s important to keep up with critical demands that ensure proper product performance, and, respectively, it directly affects a users’ engagement. So let’s look at those requirements:
Cloud hosting is considered the most reliable place to store any type of digital content. So all your videos should be kept on a good and well-tested hosting to give users smooth content delivery and a good experience.
Stable Network connectivity
Mind to use Content Delivery Network (CDN) to provide good connectivity, avoid server overloading, and reduce waiting time.
Combining robust streaming protocols like RTMP, WebRTC and CDN will lead to high bandwidth and low latency. If you plan to include videos in 4K resolution, your service should be equipped with stable and high bandwidth.
You have to protect your app from any unwanted intrusions from unauthorized users. Here are some security challenges you may experience and how to prevent them:
- Network security. Create a robust CDN platform to protect your service from DDOS attacks and the illegal spreads of your digital entities.
- Domain restrictions. The feature restricts access to your movies. For example, if you have a website movie.com, you can set up a domain limitation to block sources that aren’t movie.com from trying to embezzle your built-in code.
- Referrer restrictions. Behind this feature stands the website’s division in “white” and “black” (malicious websites). The first ones are allowed to share your digital content, and the second ones are prohibited.
- Payment security. It’s critical to integrate SSL encryption into your SVOD service to guarantee the safety of online transactions.
- Password protection. This feature enables you to give live stream access to a specific group of users.
- Copyright control. It’s crucial to protect your digital entities from 3rd parties copying and duplication.
- Powerful token security system. This system checks the authenticity of geographic and domain restrictions. If there are incorrect tokens or no tokens are there, the movies won’t play.
- HTTPS video delivery. Apps employ HTTPS to ensure information privacy. It guarantees security by restraining cracking in transmission along with providing authentication. Encrypted data can’t be modified while going through the web without interrupting it.
- AES video encryption. After the videos are encrypted, a private key encrypts the digital content. If the viewers don’t have a special access key, they can’t watch movies or TV shows. Moreover, if they try to steal it, they see a mess of useless data.
Select Video Streaming Protocols
There are a wide variety of streaming protocols like WebRTC, HLS, RTMP, and each of them has its own peculiarities that should be taken into account. Programmers can help you select a video streaming protocol that is applicable to your specific case.
Final Tips to Consider When Making a High-Quality App like Netflix
Now, let’s discuss what additional actions should be undertaken to deliver to a user-generated video on demand service like Netflix.
- Product determination. Correct estimation and thorough planning during the app development will lead you to success.
- User experience. Pay attention to the user’s journeys through your platform: from a homepage to a search results page, and deeper. People want to enter the system and make online purchases in the simplest manner. Besides, consider an impressive list of videos where users can add bookmarks of movies to watch later.
- Customization and big data. Developing strong recommendation models based on analytical data and A/B testing will allow you to offer the clients a personalized experience, including the target content and the right promotions. The segmentation should be such that loyal customers are rewarded, and the new ones are incentivized in tandem with their needs and requirements. You make the user experience better and lock them into your platform, as you push targeting content.
- Planning of advertisement strategy. Capabilities of clients base growth, income increase, and promotion strategies.
- Security. Content security actions to avoid legal problems.
- Analytics. By analyzing and collecting data, you will be able to enhance your rates, define what features should be removed, what is necessary to update to attract more consumers or enhance loyalty for existing users.
- Quality of service. It relates to different app elements such as good user experience, fast streaming speed, playback content, secure money transfer, and so on. The advertisement is also an essential part of the client’s experience. It has to be effective and shouldn’t annoy viewers.
- Multiplatforming. You must select the platform aligning with your business goals and needs. Moreover, keep in mind that customers expect to watch videos on different gadgets under 4K resolution.
How to Calculate Investments for IT Project
It’s crucial to properly plan the software development budget to deliver successful digital products. This way, you’ll understand what expenses can be cut down. Here are several hints on how to plan your budget when developing an application.
Choose a platform. The bill will differ whether you decide to make an app for just one or several platforms.
Estimate your feature set. It’s vital to make a list of required features to accurately identify the final app development budget. In addition, it will come into use when discussing the project’s requirements with your development team.
Assess your profit and define goals. Before delving into product development, it’s critical to set clear revenue goals. It will help you determine how much time it needs to pay off the investment and its appropriateness in the future.
Find a reliable vendor. Finally, you need to hire an experienced software development company to assist you in streaming service development. It’s reasonable to outsource the software development to one of the popular tech hubs instead of assembling an in-house team. This way, you exempt yourself from additional expenses like rent.
Streaming app development is a multi-stage and complex process requiring considered preparations and good knowledge of the field. It is not sufficient to just create an SVOD service like Netflix. Instead, it’s vital to conduct market research, cooperate with an experienced vendor, be entirely involved in the product development, and regularly test your platform for possible issues to keep it upgraded and relevant.