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How to Build a Video Streaming App Like Netflix?

Logos of different video streaming apps and services

Wondering how to build a video streaming app? 

This is a big market that has lots of potential for new apps.

According to Grand View Research, “The global video streaming market size is expected to reach USD 184.27 billion by 2027”.

huge riches await all those companies that are able to build and market great new video streaming applications. Here’re a few amazing case studies of companies who hired DevTeam.Space to build their software products:

  1. Alibra – Mobile App Video Streaming Solution
  2. Image Recognition System – AI Face, Sex, Emotion Recognition Software
  3. Photofy – Photo And Messaging Social Media App


A “brief history” of Netflix
Online video streaming market, and the competitors of Netflix
Key features of a video streaming app like Netflix:
Developing a video streaming app like Netflix
Planning to compete with Netflix?

A “brief history” of Netflix

Netflix, the famous streaming service doesn‘t need an introduction, however, the following quick points are worth noting:

  • Read Hastings and Marc Randolph founded it in 1997, in the US.
  • The company grew in the US for the next decade, before its‘ launch in Canada in 2010.
  • 2012 was a key year in their history. They introduced original content in this year, moreover, they won the “Emmy Engineering Award” in 2012.
  • Subsequently, the company expanded in various other geographies. At the time of writing, they support 23 languages.
  • As of Q3 2018, Netflix had 137.1 million users. 57% of this user base consisted of international viewers.
  • 51% of the US subscribers to streaming services were Netflix customers as of Q3 2018.
  • Netflix had a market cap of $131 billion in October 2018. Their Q3 2018 net profit was $403 million.

Read more about the history of Netflix in “Netflix revenue and usage statistics (2018)”.

Online video streaming market, and the competitors of Netflix

A stylized illustration of the rivalry between Netflix and Amazon Hulu

The online video streaming market is massive, and it has significant growth potential. The following facts illustrate this well:

  • The US alone will likely have over 236 million digital video viewers in 2020.
  • The penetration of digital video in the US is expected to reach 83.8% in 2021.
  • Note that this is not about on-demand video streaming services like Netflix alone. This market includes YouTube and similar sites.

Read more about this market in “Online video and streaming – statistics & facts”.

In the on-demand video streaming space, Netflix has the following competitors:

  • Amazon Prime;
  • Hulu Plus;
  • HBO Now.

Netflix leads this market, whereas Amazon is their nearest competitor. Read more about the competitors of Netflix in “Who are Netflix’s main competitors? (NFLX)”.

Key features of a video streaming app like Netflix:

A video streaming app to cater to this large, growing market should have the following features:

  • Users should be able to watch free movies online during a free trial period.
  • Once users buy a subscription, they should get unlimited content in the entertainment app.
  • The app should work on multiple platforms like desktops, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, etc.
  • User management, profile management, in-app purchases, etc. should be smooth.
  • An elegant “User Interface” (UI), security, etc. are imperative.
  • Users should be able to download content and watch offline.
  • The app should meet stringent performance and scalability standards. Netflix accounts for 15% of the global downstream Internet traffic, as the industry-watchers report. You certainly need a performant and scalable app to compete with that!


Developing a video streaming app like Netflix

Let‘s dive deeper and understand the steps to create an on-demand video streaming app, as follows:

1. Strategize

You need the right strategy to launch a successful app that can compete with Netflix. Focus on the following:

  • How do you create content for your on-demand video streaming app? This is an important aspect for you to strategize. Read more about this in “Do it like Netflix: how to create content in the streaming era”.
  • You need a strategy to market your app effectively. This would involve several aspects, e.g., “App Store Optimization” (ASO), monetization, etc. Get important guidance in “How to create an effective app marketing strategy?”.
  • Even if you launch your app in one geographical region now, you will likely expand it to other regions. You should design and develop your app in a manner that future localization is easy. This is called “app internationalization”. You can read “7 tips for mobile app localization” for guidance.

2. Determine the project scope

Launching an app like Netflix is a large project. I recommend that you use the Agile SDLC model, and start with a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP). You can further enhance the app based on market feedback. Read about Agile in “What is software development life cycle and what you plan for?”.

I suggest you build an app targeting the following platforms first:

  • Web;
  • Android phones;

You can later expand it to cover smart TVs.

3. Build your team

You need the following roles in your team:

  • Software architects;
  • Business analysts;
  • UI/UX designers;
  • Web developers;
  • Android developers;
  • iOS developers;
  • Testers;
  • A project manager (PM).

I recommend you use the “Scrum” technique to manage the project. Here, the PM performs the role of a “Scrum master”, and builds small, cross-functional teams. Such teams have designers, developers, and testers working together, and we call them “Scrum teams”. Read about it in “How to build a Scrum development team?”.

4. Choose the right software architecture pattern

Plan for success! A successful on-demand video streaming app like Netflix will attract a large number of subscribers and heavy Internet traffic. You need to choose the right software architecture pattern for this. I recommend you use the “Microservices pattern”. This offers the following advantages:

  • An on-demand video streaming app will offer separate services, e.g., subscription, account management, video streaming, etc. These services are separate from each other. Microservices architecture pattern makes such apps scalable.
  • You need to optimize and prioritize resources for Individual services with different peaks and troughs in their demand. Microservices pattern helps here.
  • It‘s easier to maintain the app.
  • Microservices pattern helps in managing the deployment of individual services since these are separate.

I have earlier explained this architecture pattern in “10 best practices for building a microservice architecture”.

5. Get a PaaS account for the web app

Expedite your web app development by getting yourself a “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) account. I recommend AWS Elastic Beanstalk, i.e., AWS PaaS. AWS has excellent cloud capabilities, which makes it a robust choice. A PaaS account helps you in the following ways:

  • You don‘t need to invest in a data center. PaaS providers manage the cloud infrastructure, networking, server, storage, middleware, operating systems (OS), and runtime environment. A developer can focus on coding, and he/she needs to bring in the application data.
  • PaaS providers let you incorporate cloud databases in your app.
  • You can integrate 3rd party APIs.
  • PaaS providers offer DevOps, application monitoring, and automated scaling solutions.

Read more about PaaS in “10 top PaaS providers”.

6. Sign-up for an MBaaS account for the mobile app

I recommend you use AWS Amplify, i.e., AWS “Mobile Backend as a Service” (MBaaS) to manage the mobile backend better. You get several advantages of using an MBaaS provider, as follows:

  • The provider handles the cloud infrastructure for the mobile app backend.
  • It‘s easier to target multiple mobile platforms if you use an MBaaS provider.
  • MBaaS providers can address user management.
  • Persistent data storage is another area where MBaaS providers help.
  • Security capabilities of MBaaS providers help mobile app developers.
  • The provider helps you to incorporate push notifications in the app.
  • Geolocation capabilities of MBaaS providers help mobile app developers.
  • Incorporating a microservices architecture pattern, which is important for your project, is easier if you use MBaaS.
  • You can easily integrate 3rd party APIs into your mobile app.

Read about the advantages of MBaaS in “How to choose the best mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)?”.

Note: An advantage of using AWS is that you can access Elastic Beanstalk and Amplify with a single AWS account. Furthermore, you don‘t need to hire cloud platform architects and mobile backend developers.

7. Sign-up for a robust cloud streaming service

Expedite your development by choosing the right cloud streaming service! Wowza provides one. Their Wowza streaming cloud offers the following advantages:

  • It‘s a fully managed solution. You don‘t need upfront investment in hardware.
  • Their ultra-low latency ensures a positive user experience.
  • Their GoCoder SDK is bundled with their cloud streaming solution. A developer will find it easy to implement video streaming features.
  • The SDK supports both Android and iOS development.
  • You can also get their sample code for Swift and Kotlin, which will further help in the development.
  • The SDK has extensive documentation.
  • There is also a “Wowza Player” JavaScript API to help you with the web app development.

Check out their pricing plans here.

8. Use a subscription management solution

I recommend using the API of a renowned subscription management provider. This will save effort for you since you don‘t need to code the subscription management function from scratch. Zoho offers such a solution, in the form of their “Zoho Subscriptions open APIs”. You can get the following features and advantages:

  • Subscription management;
  • Recurring billing;
  • Subscription metrics;
  • Recurring payments;
  • Robust security features;
  • Subscription automation;
  • High-quality support from the Zoho team;
  • Extensive API documentation.

You can find their pricing plans here.

9. Use eCommerce APIs to implement the in-app purchase feature

An on-demand video streaming app needs to support in-app purchases. I recommend you integrate an eCommerce solution to implement this feature. Moltin is a good option. Their eCommerce API has the following advantages:

  • It‘s a flexible solution, and developers can use their APIs and SDKs in innovative manners.
  • Moltin works well with a microservices architecture.
  • It’s a performant solution.
  • Developers can use their excellent documentation.
  • The JavaScript SDK helps in web app development.
  • Your iOS development will be easier with their Swift SDK.
  • Their Android SDK will help in Android development.
  • Common eCommerce functions like account management, carts, checkout, order management, store management, etc. are easy with Moltin.

Visit their pricing page to select a plan that suits you.

10. Use Node.js for the web app development

Node.js is a great option for web app development. I recommend you use it since it offers the following advantages:

  • js supports asynchronous event-driven programming, which helps in achieving scale.
  • JavaScript developers can easily learn Node.js.
  • js is performant.
  • This highly popular open-source language has a vibrant developer community. The community has created thousands of tools and frameworks, and this helps developers.
  • Streaming is easier to implement with Node.js.
  • Modern open-source document databases like MongoDB uses JavaScript. Node.js developers can take advantage of it and easily implement database queries in their apps.

I have explained the advantages of Node.js in “10 great tools for Node.Js software development”. For this project, I recommend you use the popular and performant Express.js framework.

11. Code, test, and deploy the web app

Go ahead with the web app development, testing, and deployment as follows:

12. Design the mobile app UI

Design an elegant and user-friendly UI for the mobile app, by focusing on the following key aspects:

13. Develop and test the Android app

Develop and test the Android app as follows:

  • Use Android Studio, the popular Android “Integrated Development Environment” (IDE).
  • Code your app using the modern Kotlin The concise syntax of this language offers many productivity benefits to developers. Programmers can eliminate common errors with Kotlin. I have explained the advantages of Kotlin in “Kotlin vs Java: which is the best choice?”.
  • You can read “Get started with Kotlin on Android” for more guidance.
  • Integrate Wowza GoCoder Android SDK, Zoho subscription management API, and Moltin Android SDK in your app.

14. Development and testing of the iOS app

You now need to develop and test the iOS app, which involves the following:

  • Use Xcode, the popular iOS IDE.
  • Swift, the modern iOS development language is a good choice for this project. I recommend you use it. Developers need to code less with Swift, and they can create performant apps. The language helps developers eliminate errors, and the app will have better maintainability. Read “How to migrate your Objective-C project to Swift?” to know more about the advantages of Swift.
  • You need to integrate Wowza GoCoder iOS SDK, Zoho subscription management API, and Moltin iOS SDK in your app.

15. Publish your mobile app in app stores

Now that you have developed and tested your mobile app, you need to publish them to the respective app stores. Read the following guidelines:

16. Manage your project using effective PM tools

Your team will need to use the Scrum technique as follows:

  • Plan “Sprints”, i.e., iterations, by estimating and prioritizing the features;
  • Conduct “Daily stand-up meetings” for project status tracking;
  • Obtain stakeholder approval for the iteration in a “Sprint review meeting”;
  • Learn lessons from a completed sprint in a “Sprint retrospective meeting”.

I recommend you use Jira, which is a very popular PM tool for Agile project management.

This completes the on-demand video streaming app development project.

17. Optional – plan for other platforms

While you have just developed the on-demand video streaming app for web, Android, and iOS, I recommend you start planning for the other platforms. Consider the following platforms:


Planning to compete with Netflix?

A project to develop an on-demand video streaming app can be complex. The more platforms you target, the higher is the complexity. Consider engaging a software development company for a project like this. Our guide “How to find the best software development company?” can help you to find a reliable development partner.

DevTeam.Space is a vetted community of expert dev teams supported by an AI-powered agile process.

Companies like Samsung, Airbus, NEC, and startups rely on us to build great online products. We can help you too, by helping you to hire and effortlessly manage expert developers.

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