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How to Build a Video Streaming Application like Netflix

  • By Agira Technologies
  • January 23, 2020

Most of us today prefer spending our weekends by watching Netflix all day. It has brought “Netflix and chill”, “Binge-watching” and much more in our day-to-day slang. Now, you can understand the impact of this video streaming platform and how sleekly it penetrated into our lifestyle. Get to know the secret behind the meteoric success of Netflix; its building blocks (technology), business model, and much more. And if you are impressed with this Subscription Video On Demand model,  here is your ultimate guide on how to create an app like Netflix, the tools required and the cost of building an MVP. 
 A report by Statista says that around 60% of adults in the US subscribe to Netflix in 2018. And the total subscribers reached 163.5 million in 2019  across the world. 
We should accept the fact that Netflix has changed the way we watched television. Let’s see the flask back of Netflix in a two-minute video highlighting its milestones. 

History of Netflix (in 2 minutes)

Technology has taken a CD delivering company into one of the worlds largest Subscription Video On Demand services. 

What is a Subscription Video On Demand service?

It is a video streaming service that lets its subscribers to watch or download unlimited films, series and programs by paying the service on a monthly or yearly basis. The subscriber can watch these videos whenever they want to and can control (pause, fast forward, rewind or stop) the streaming. Some video streaming services also include live shows. This service can be available for any internet-connected devices including mobile phones, tablets, personal computers and televisions. 

Why SVoD business model is successful?

  1. In contrary to transactional VoD, there are no special fees for a particular video. You will get unrestricted access to all the videos available in the service. 
  2. SVoD is gaining traction over cable or broadcast as anyone can watch the video content whenever they have time.
  3. Being not limited by FCC broadcast regulations, the content is not subjected to any filters. 
  4. The cable or broadcast lacks mobility as compared to SVoD.

SVoD market in the US

“The revenue from SVOD services was around $4.3 million in 2010. In 2011, this figure reached a whopping $454 million, establishing SVOD as the biggest segment of the online movie industry in the U.S. Netflix and Hulu are two of the most popular SVoD providers.” – Says Techopedia

The statistics also state that the US alone will have over 236 million digital video viewers in 2020 which is expected to reach 83.8% in 2021. This report represents not only on-demand video but also other video streaming sites such as YouTube.

How to create an App like Netflix?

There are two possible ways to build an effective online video streaming platform like Netflix. Depending on your requirements, demands, time frame and budget, you can choose the right one suitable for you. You can build from scratch by hiring the right developers for your project or buy a clone app and modify it.
The former takes time to develop, but you can ultimately build your app with personalised ideas and strategies. And the latter already comes with features, but it will take time to customize it according to your requirement. 
So, hiring a skilled developer is always recommended for creating a web or mobile application. 
First of all, you will need to know the essential tech stack requirements for building an effective video streaming platform. 
And then, start building the application by following the below steps.

  • Develop a unique strategy
  • Choose a lucrative business model
  • Pick the right technology stack
  • Build a sleek MVP with essential features
  • On success, enhance user experience as you scale up

netflix react js

Netflix’s Tech Stack

Netflix uses a number of efficient tools and tech stack to provide the most seamless user experience to its users. As you can see in the image below, there are numerous open-source software packages involved in backend support such as Java, Cassandra, MySQL and others. If you want to mention one prominent language that Netflix is running is obviously Python and React for its front-end. Here is the list of all the stacks involved in building a fail-proof video  streaming platform like Netflix.

Source: Stackshare

Tech stacks of other top SVoD platforms

Check out the tech stacks involved in building the other top SVoD platforms and the closest competitors of Netflix.
Hulu: It runs mainly on Ruby on Rails. Click here to know the other tech stacks involved.
Amazon Prime Video: It uses its own AWS to deliver solid streaming experience.
HBO Now: Its tech stack involves JQuery, Node.Js and much more.
Twitch: This also runs in Ruby on Rails and other needful tech stacks.
Crunchyroll: Many stacks including PHP, Rails, Javascript and others were involved in the development.

Video Streaming Application Software Architecture

Many different successful video streaming applications including Netflix and Amazon prime video follow different architectures but highly efficient. Only the right architecture pattern can provide you with the seamless user experience that attracts millions of customers. So, the wise men recommend you microservices pattern architecture.

  • This architecture separates every service in on-demand video streaming apps such as subscription and user account management, video streaming, and others.
  • You can prioritize different resources and services according to its demand.
  • The maintenance, deployment and scalability of the application are easier.

In most cases, software architecture involves three things, the server component, distribution component, and client software.
Also read: Microservices Architecture

Essential Features for an MVP of a Video Streaming Application 

It is essential for any start-up to follow the well-known MVP pathway to succeed in your business with less risk. So, the MVP is the minimum viable product built only with the most crucial features required for the business logic. For building a video streaming platform like Netflix, there is an abundant requirement of a strong backend to process the data transfer effortlessly. So, any additional feature is going to add more to the development cost. Therefore, here is the list of all the main features that are crucial for supporting a Video On Demand platform with a reduced cost.
1. Platform – Web and Mobile Application
The basic platform on which the application is meant to be launched, such as web or mobile (ios, or Android). Even if your project is about to be launch in all these platforms, it is better to choose any one initially for the MVP development. Choose a web or mobile according to your business logic and strategy. If you are choosing mobile development, make sure that you develop in both iOS and Android.
2. Design
Let the design be simple initially, neat and sleek for the user to easily navigate. Users always look for applications that are easy and simple to use. The user interface leaves the first impression on the user, make sure to win in that. When speaking about excellent user experiences, any expert would say, being straight-forward is the key.
3. Block screenshots
This feature is as important as the copyrights of your content. Despite all of your efforts in creating original content, do not let others take it all that easily. Integrate this feature with your video streaming application and also, it should not let any other mobile devices to take a picture through a camera.
4. User On-boarding 
Creating a profile for the user is the first and foremost feature that lets the user to signup with you. This is most like the initial call to action. It can also let the user sign up with their existing social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter or Gmail.
5. Subscription
This feature should allow the user to try a free trial and subscribe to the platform. In the free trial, it should let the user access video content without paying for a specific number of days and restrict it after that. Once the trial is over, it should let them access only when payment is one. Go for flexible subscription models that allow the users to pay in a monthly or yearly basis.
6. Payment Gateway
There are many payment gateways that can be easily integrated with any web or mobile application. The payment systems are further easier with Apple or Google OS as they both have their own payment systems. Some of the well-known payment integrations are PayPal,  Stripe and much more.
7. Search and Categories
The search box is one of the main features that lets the user search for a specific content they are looking for. It should let the user search content directly with suitable filtering options including genre, categories, ratings and others.
8. Settings
It is another important feature that lets the user control the video content. this includes the selection of subtitles, fast-forwarding, setting video quality, volume and much more.

Additional Features

Once your application is successful, you can append additional features like the following to it to enhance the user experience of the application. Some of the most intuitive features that you can add are listed below.

  • User Profile feature of Netflix lets you create a user persona that allows you and your friend to share the subscription without disturbing each other’s sense of selection.
  • Ratings & Reviews section will let the users review the video content and rate it on a scale of 5 or 10.
  • Push-notifications will let you advertise to your users about a new series that you are releasing recently.
  • Multiple language support is suitable for the regional target audience and users from other countries speaking other than English.
  • Video Streaming will let you live stream programs like a sports event, a concert or any other.
  •  Users should be enabled to rate movies and television programs, thus they can form their own rating as per other portal users opinion.
  • Download feature to enable the user to watch the video offline by downloading it.
  • Video quality feature should allow the user to select the video quality they prefer.
  • Content recommendation algorithm is the epic one of Netflix that recommends the best video content by considering your video content selection and consumption.

How much does it cost to develop a video streaming application?

It is not that easy to build a high performing video streaming application. It consumes a lot of time, hours of programming, resources and money to build a reliable platform. As already mentioned above, the heavy backend is crucial for a video streaming application which is itself slightly expensive. Other than that, you will need to spend on the architecture, sign up for a Paas account, get a Maas account, cloud streaming service, and subscription management systems. Other than this, there will be additional cost according to your customizations in the features.
So, one cannot come up with an approximate development cost for building video streaming just like that. You will need to contact the subject matter experts before making a decision.
If you are planning to build a video streaming application like Netflix, don’t hesitate to hire the best Python developers and Ruby on Rails developers from Agira technologies.

Need an estimate for your own video streaming app like Netflix?

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AgiraTech is a technology company whose business services and domain solutions supports global clients who comprise the current world economy. Services we offer : Web development, Mobile App development, Blockchain, IoT and DevOps Consulting