The video streaming industry has become so populated and competitive that it’s hard to imagine another streaming upstart launching and capturing a significant chunk of the market. Even the greats have tried and failed spectacularly – NBC’s SeeSo only survived a few months after launch.


But such fiascos don’t discourage many media new companies and platforms from trying – and often succeeding – in jumping on the VOD bandwagon. The key to making a dent in the market shares of giants like Netflix, HBO Max or Hulu, it seems, is finding a niche and dominating it. Such is the story of, for example, CrunchyRoll – a platform, distributor, publisher, and production and licensing company focused on streaming anime, manga, and dorama content.

Do you really need to build a video streaming service?

Before a single line of code is written, it’s a good idea to know why you want to have a streaming platform. How will you monetize your content? Who is the platform for?


Depending on the business purpose, there are three main types of video streaming platforms:


  • Commercial – you provide video entertainment in the form of TV shows or movies.
  • Massive open online course (MOOC) – online courses available for anyone with free, ad-supported or paid access. Examples include sites like edX or Coursera.
  • Internal platforms developed for private organizations, public institutions, or universities. These organizations require it for internal needs like training remote employees.

Get your terms right

Before making your first steps, learn the basics. For example, make sure to know the difference between OTT, VOD, AVOD, IPTV, SVOD, and live streaming. Some of them are indeed used interchangeably.


To get started, have a look at our blog and offer yourself a crash course in three-letter acronyms (heads up–there are plenty of them.)

Hire a team or…

To develop a video streaming website, you first need to find an experienced development team. Working with an external team usually starts with business analysis, developing a technical specification, estimating the development cost, and planning the project. Before diving into creating your video streaming website, you and your team should set up a website development workflow, choose the main features, and design a website concept.




  • Build the platform in-house

Building the platform in-house requires a lot of effort. You’ll need to invest in servers, resources, and other things that would make it possible to maintain a high-quality streaming service. Or…

  • Use a white-label VOD platform

Online video platforms like Muvi, Wowza, Unscreen, or Better Media Suite offer a full set of features out-of-the-box and offer you a shortcut to launch your site. Or…

  • Choose an open-source VOD platform to build upon

With open-source platforms such as PeerTube or MediaGoblin you can create and customize your own video-on-demand system for free.

Build the MVP of your platform

The next step is for your development team to create milestones and work on the minimum viable product. Creating a video streaming website is a big and complex project. Launch a minimum viable product first and test it thoroughly. This will allow you to find what your users like and don’t like on your website. Using this feedback, you can improve your video streaming website.

Choose a monetization model

The next step is to choose the right monetization model for your website. Now that you know your users’ needs, you can estimate how much (if anything) your users are ready to pay for the content. 


Consider one of the three options:


  • Advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) – video content is free for viewers but before watching it, they need to view the ads.
  • Subscription video on demand (SVOD) – works just like Netflix. Viewers pay to have full access to the content library and watch it any time, anywhere. There are no ads.
  • Transactional video on demand (TVOD) – viewers purchase video content to watch for a limited time and number.

What features should your video streaming app have?

If you are planning to develop a live video streaming application, there are many aspects to consider. Let’s briefly go over the must-haves:


Onboard new users by teaching them how to use the key functionalities of the website. It is key but shouldn’t take excessively long.

Netflix availability

As part of the onboarding process, Netflix explains which platforms the app is available for


Registering through your video streaming application should be frictionless. This is where adding a social media login comes in handy – making the whole process seamless and fast.


It is key to allow the users to find the content they want – there must be a search box on the first screen, where most consumers expect to find it. Discovery features are just as important for those whore are more into browsing to see if anything catches their eye.

Video Library

Before you launch, ensure there is a catalog of content your user will want to watch populating the home screen when the service is launched. Nothing beats the disappointment of an empty-looking website with little to offer – and possibly charges you money! You obviously can’t compete with Netflix, but it makes sense to stock up on content before launching for real.


Once your users find the content they want to watch, allow them to add the items to watchlists. Watchlist (My List, etc.) can be part of your effort to learn about their preferences and apply AI algorithms to offer recommendations for new shows and movies. 

My list feature

Using the My List feature, users can easily keep track of the shows they want to see in the future.


Allow users to rate the content they love. You can also leverage this feedback to better understand your users and discover what makes them tick.

Offline mode

Downloading videos to the device’s local storage is very useful to travelers and commuters without a stable internet connection. This removes the need for an internet connection or makes viewing easier when the user’s having connection issues.

Multi-Language Support

Add multi-language support if you want to grow globally. By adding this feature, you will be able to attract users from different regions and make your platform more user-friendly. 


Offer a few subscription plans and allow users to manage packages and payments from the app easily. Make sure your pricing and terms are transparent. And avoid dark patterns – users hate them!

Amazon Prime plan

Amazon Prime subscription plan selection screen

Recommendation and “continue watching” features

If you develop an Android TV app that streams video (TV shows, movies, etc. ), you can integrate it with the Watch Next channel on the home screen. By doing so, your app can provide recommendations, such as programs the user has marked as interesting and programs they have started but not finished.

The tech stack: streaming protocols


HTTP Live Streaming (aka HLS) and Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (aka MPEG-DASH) are the two most popular modern solutions. In both cases, media content is broken up into small chunks and sent to the user over HTTP.


MPEG-DASH is an adaptive bitrate (ABR) protocol that detects changes in the internet connection and chooses the optimal video quality accordingly, reducing buffering. MPEG-DASH also allows the use of any video and audio codec (WebM, H.264, AAC, MP3, etc.).


HLS was developed by Apple and intended to replace the company’s own media streaming standard, Quicktime Streaming Server, and solve some issues.

What tech do popular video streaming apps use?

Netflix distributes content with a custom CDN using Amazon’s hosting service. They use MySQL, PostgreSQL, Cassandra, and Oracle databases. The site is built on Node.js, React, and Falcor, a proprietary JavaScript library that facilitates easy content distribution.


Hulu has recently refreshed its tech stack and revealed details of the process on its tech blog. The front end of their product now uses Node.js and React, while the server rendering is handled by next.js.


Disney hasn’t been excessively effusive about its technology. Still, chances are a similar stack is in place – Node.js, React, and Java on the front end with the usual Amazon hosting solutions to back it all up.

How much does it cost to build a video streaming website?

The cost of developing a video streaming website depends on many factors. However, the most important factor determining a project’s cost is the hourly rate of the developers, which often depends on their location.


Developing an Android TV app is a great way to tap into new, TV-focused audiences. The first-mover’s advantages for businesses launching a streaming app are plenty, and TV production companies and brands must seize this opportunity to get ahead of the game. However, because building a video streaming service is still new territory for many brands, it is important to join forces with the right development agency. Knowledge of specific platform SDK and understanding of software architecture certainly helps, especially when combined with practical experience in HTML, CSS, and Java.


Look for a contractor with a portfolio of similar projects. A specialized, well-established smart TV developer will ensure the quality of services and long-term support.


Of course, before developing an app, you should research your main target platforms. The variety of platforms doesn’t make it easy but may be important from the business point of view. Developing the app for several smart TV platforms will make it more difficult to support in the future.

So, where to start?

If you’re looking to develop your Smart TV app or are curious about what we can do for you, send us an email. Our experts will be happy to discuss your project.


Also, consider signing up to our VOD development academy to learn more about the process and visit our blog to learn from our resources.