Need To Build A Streaming APP? Here Are Important Things You Need to Know

The entertainment industry is having its own fair share of disruption. Video production and views are no exception. It has also extended its tentacles to the art of broadcasting. It’s changing the process of video and audio presentations as well.

Are you are looking to build a streaming app for your company or brand? There are important things to know about building these apps. You will learn about them in this article.

Why You Need To Build An App

Why do you need to build a streaming app? There are quite a few reasons but at the core of it all is that the world has evolved. Things have changed. Gone are the days of depending on television alone for videos. People are now spending fewer hours in front of the TV.

Cable subscription is trying to add some glow to the entertainment industry. But it’s not doing so much to the admiration of viewers; at least, not anymore. A great number of users are unsubscribing day in day out for obvious reasons.

These days, almost everyone wants the ability to stream their shows from anywhere. If you want to run a successful venture, you need to give people what they want. In this age, building a streaming app is one of the most profitable things to do.

Consider the following statistics about streaming:

  • 80% of users prefer watching live video from a brand to reading a blog.
  • 82% want a live video from a brand instead of a social media post.
  • 45% of live video users are willing to pay to watch the content.
  • About 56% of all live content is about breaking news broadcasts.
  • 70% is ready to buy concert or event tickets after live stream of such events.
  • Over 75% of the audience is already watching live videos on the Facebook Live app.

If you’re thinking about building apps of your own, consider what is most beneficial to your audience.

Types Of Streaming Apps

One important thing you need to know as you’re attempting to build a streaming app is the type of app you want to build. You may want to build a streaming app for Android or for iOS.

As you go about this, it’s important to remember that streaming apps serve different purposes. Some may be for personal entertainment while others may be for business. The three major categories are:

Live broadcasting apps

Live broadcasting apps are among the most common that are available today. Popular examples of these are Facebook Live, Livestream, Periscope, and YouTube Live. This type of app can be used to record and broadcast videos at the same time. Most professionals use them to stream their talks and tutorials live.

Audio only streaming apps

Popular apps of this type are Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify. They work with the same principles as live broadcasting apps. But they don’t work for videos because they are only for audio. You can use an app like this to broadcast your speech or music to your audience. These are simple apps you can build if your goal is to stream audio productions only.

VoD apps

These are Video on Demand streaming (VoD) apps. They enable users to watch TV series online. Users don’t need to download each video. They will be able to pause, resume, and rewind videos they’re watching. A user can also skip any unwanted moments and move on with the movie. VoD apps can do a lot more. To watch the contents of VoD apps, users have to pay for the streaming service. This is one app type you can consider if you want to stream TV series and movies online. Apps like Amazon Video, Hulu, and Netflix are the most used in the category.

Common Streaming Apps

As you take a look at the features of some of the popular streaming apps below, you will get an idea about what to build.

1. Amazon Video

The Amazon Video Streaming App is one of the most popular today. Its content includes various TV shows and movies. Users of Amazon Video can view current and new movies at an extra cost.

2. Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll is an app that targets a particular group of people. It’s all about Japanese animation fans. Users pay $11.95 to enjoy this app. This cost is more than justified because of the content. Users can enjoy as many as 25,000 episodes and 15,000 hours of rich content.

Once users pay the subscription, they can start to enjoy the app without disturbances. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the programs in Crunchyroll have subtitles. Some users may not want this. They may prefer to navigate between subtitles and dub. You can learn something from this as you consider the app you will build.

3. HBO Now

Users of HBO Now don’t have to pay a separate subscription fee for each device. It’s costlier than many apps of its category. They pay $14.99 per month for their account subscription. But once they pay this fee, the app will function on each device attached to their account.

4. Hulu

Hulu has become the sweet spouse of Netflix for quite some time. Most apps can’t do it better than Hulu when it comes to streaming television shows. It’s gaining ground so fast because it’s quick to get shows for streaming. It is faster than even video stream apps like Amazon or Netflix. Hulu gives 2 types two of subscription. The ad-free one goes for $11.99 while the one with ads costs only $7.99 a month.

5. Netflix

The best and most popular app for watching movies online is Netflix. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to build a video stream app. It thrives on its features and the selection of titles and it updates monthly. Netflix original shows also fascinate users. You can get it on a variety of platforms. The subscription is $7.99 per month.

6. Twitch

Twitch is another app from Netflix. But it is for streaming gaming videos. It is the most popular and the biggest among them. Users of Twitch can watch all their favorite games as other people play them. They can see some of the competitive matches. It allows users to create and stream contents themselves at zero cost. That’s a big plus for Twitch. It has a place for ads in each video stream to generate profit. Twitch has an ad-free option as well, users can access this for a fee.

How To Build Your App

If you have an idea of programming, you might decide to build your own streaming app yourself. But if you don’t, you can hire the services of an independent developer. You can hire a developing agency or a software developing company.

While doing that, you also need to take the following steps, in no particular order:

Have Your Product Licensed:

You have to protect the content of your app. There should be usage rights for your intellectual properties. For instance, you must reserve the right to stream them and offer them to your customers. This requires a concrete contract with a chosen content provider. You must provide the Terms of Use and conditions that apply. Users will have to read and accept these before they can access your app.

Choose The Right Tools:

You need to decide on what type of app you want to build and its features and functionalities. This should be done before determining the right tools to use.

Developing agencies and companies know the right tools to use in building an app. They will base it on the information and requirements you provide them.

The following are examples of tools you’ll need to build a live streaming app if you’re doing it yourself:

Mobile apps: Swift if it’s for iOS, or Kotlin/Java if it’s for Android

CDN (Content Delivery Network): It can be Cloudflare/Amazon CloudFront. This takes care of latency and buffering issues. If you want your users to enjoy your streaming app without frustration, put in place the right CDN. Consider the following research findings that underscore the importance of CDN:

I. 21.6% of users will leave a video page if it stops during playback.

II. 61% will stop watching altogether if it does so the second time.

III. 84.7% will uninstall the app if it happens a third time.

  • Hosting: It may be Amazon Web Services
  • API server: Node.js
  • Media server: Anyone of DaCast, Wowza, WebRTC
  • Database: MySQL / DynamoDB
  • Push Notifications: Firebase Notifications
  • Messaging Queues: AWS Simple Queue System
  • Geolocation: Google Maps, MapKit/Core Location (iOS)

Consider The Storage:

This is crucial for the safety of the content of your app. You should store them in a reliable place. At the same time, the users should be able to watch your videos without interruptions. They should have a smooth and seamless experience. Think about the reliable and powerful SSD-storage you need. This is important for you and your app users.

Consider Aesthetics:

The homepage of your app should be pleasing to look at. Remember that the first impression is a lasting impression. The interface of your app has to be user-friendly.

Consider The End Users

You need to decide on whether your app will be a user to user app or a user to audience app. Study the features of apps like Skype and Viber if it’s a user to user app. Learn from apps like Twitch and Periscope if you’re thinking about building a user to audience app.

Create An MVP:

Do you want your app to render interesting services? Start with a minimum valuable product (MVP). This refers to the basic feature that will keep your app functioning well. Most apps should have features like:

User registration: This can be in your app only by means of e-mail addresses and passwords. You also need to create password recovery options.

User personal profile: This can include:

  1. Username
  2. Full name
  3. Pictures
  4. Subscription

Users may include other profile information later.

Online streaming implementation

Comments to broadcasting: This can be in the form of feedback for the audience or the broadcaster.

Design: See an expert for the most attractive design.

Search: The search field should be flexible and have different filters. Filters may include age, location, interest, topic, language and so on.

Server side: This should have the ability to convert and stream.

You may add other features later as you upgrade the app. Such features may include:

Cloud Recording: This enables you to save videos for your users to watch again at some other time.

Geo Blocking: This feature enables you to limit those that will watch your broadcast.

Analytics: This, besides feedback, can enable you to track users. You can know the time spent, preferences, actions, and clicks on ads.

Consider The Streaming Codec

You need to consider the storage space on the device of your users. Think of a way to compress and decompress data. Per second streaming of 25 HD images takes up more than a little disc space on both the server and user sides. To stream 1280×720 resolution video for 60 seconds, for example, it’ll take 1 GB of memory space.

You can use either of these two approaches. The first is to install special programs for compression on both the user and the server sides. With such a program, you can send compressed images from the server side to the user. You can also send uncompressed images to users’ devices

The second approach is to use codecs. Codecs refer to compression and decompression algorithm supported on devices by default. There are different codecs for different devices and operating systems. But the common compression format for most of them is H.265 video standard.

Understand Your Bandwidth, Bitrates, And Video Qualities

This is the amount of data required to encode a single second of video. You can choose between the variable bitrate (VBR) and the constant bitrate (CBR). The VBR considers the complexity of each video segment. And it adapts the data stream. But the CBR doesn’t optimize your media files for quality.

The higher the bitrate, the higher the quality of your media. But it will need more bandwidth.

At any rate, VBR gives a better quality image than CBR. With CBR, video qualities will be low during complex segments. This is so data comes through at the same rate. There will also be some unused data during simple segments. This will create some issues for your users unless you’re streaming a static image.

But with VBR, the data transfer varies according to the complexity of each segment of the stream. Only the amount of data required by the encoder to stream a segment will be transferred. This is the more preferred option of the two.

The table below shows the relationship between bandwidth and bitrate. And you’ll see how they affect video qualities.

Video Resolution and Bitrates Chart

Video codec Resolutions

(Aspect Ratio)

Ave Bit Rate* Max Bit Rate Min Bit Rate Max Frame Rate
Low H.264 320×180 (16.9)

212×160 (4.3)

200 Kbps 250 Kbps 15 Kbps 15 Kbps
H.264/RTV 424×240 (16.9)

320×240 (4.3)

280 Kbps 350 Kbps 100 Kbps 15 Kbps
H.264 480×270 (16.9)

424×320 (4.3)

360 Kbps 450 Kbps 200 Kbps 15 Kbps
Standard H.264/RTV 640×360 (16.9)

640×480 (4.3)

640 Kbps 800 Kbps 300 Kbps 30 Kbps
H.264 848×480 (16.9) 1200 Kbps 1500 Kbps 400 Kbps 30 Kbps
H.264 950×540 (16.9) 1600 Kbps 2500 Kbps 500 Kbps 30 Kbps
HD H.264/RTV 1280×720 (16.9) 2000 Kbps 2500 Kbps 700 Kbps 30 Kbps
H.264 1920×1080 (16.9) 3000 Kbps 4000 Kbps 500 Kbps 30 Kbps
Panorama H.2640/RTV 960×144 (20.3) 400 Kbps 500 Kbps 15 Kbps 30 Kbps
H.264 1280×192 (20.3) 800 Kbps 1000 Kbps 250 Kbps 30 Kbps
H.264 1920×288 (20.3) 1600 Kbps 2000 Kbps 500 Kbps 30 Kbps


Data source: The LyncBand with Calculator

Average calculation based on 80% of the maximum

RTP payload includes Forward Error Correction (FEC) overhead

5 Kbps per codec for RTCP payload

Does this sounds too techy for you? Do you find the whole process too complex? If so, use the services of a professional app development agency. They can build the streaming app of your choice. You only have to provide them with your specifications, and they will get the job done. This allows you to focus on other important aspects of your business.

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