Three types of video streaming apps
With the global outbreak quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak, millions of people worldwide were forced to stay at home all day long. While some were able to retain their jobs and started working remotely, many others were forced to start looking for new jobs. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the US and the EU population have some backup funds and are able to wait out the lockdown with ease. But what are they doing while being forced to remain at home 24/7? Most of them are watching their TVs in search of entertainment!
This is why various video streaming apps are rapidly growing in popularity and while US cable networks lose around 14,000 subscribers every day, the numbers of Netflix and Hulu (as well as other video streaming platforms) subscriptions, grow daily. Most importantly, people that started using video streaming platforms usually remain long-term subscribers, meaning this domain will flourish even after the quarantine is lifted.
There are ample opportunities to enter this market, which rapidly becomes one of the fastest-growing consumer industries. According to Statista, 74% of the US consumers use Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu subscription videos on-demand, and this market grew by 20% in the last 5 years. Thus said, every dashing entrepreneur can quickly build a new video streaming app and if it is able to provide great customer experience — you can cut yourself a huge chunk of this pie. Today we discuss three types of video streaming apps, the features they should possess and how can a startup develop them.
What video streaming apps are out there?
Based on the content distribution manner, there are three types of video streaming apps:
- Services from traditional TV and cable providers. As the numbers of their subscribers dwindle, telecom and cable providers search for new ways to reach the target audience. AT&T TV Now and Sling TV are the most known representatives of this type of streaming platforms in the US. YouTube TV and Hulu are other examples of this approach, granting access to huge collections of TV channels.
Sling TV does not produce any original content — instead it grants real-time access to TV channels with movies and shows once they air. Cox and Comcast also provide streaming apps that can be used on any devices far from home but are registered and connected to a home-based TV subscription plan.
- On-demand video streaming platforms with original content. Everybody heard about Netflix, which is the largest video streaming platform worldwide with 61 million subscribers as of the end of 2019. It started as an online analog of DVD rentals in 2007 but has since then grown into one of the biggest video streaming market players with its original content (House of Cards, Breaking Bad, The Witcher, etc.)
Hulu is another example of such platforms but it rather concentrates on TV shows than movies. It allows using an internal search engine for finding and streaming any TV show in its network after it has been shown on the TV.
- Streaming apps from independent TV networks. While Disney TV, HBO and CBS are among standard add-ons for literally any TV subscription plan, they also have their own apps. For example, HBO provides two types of service: HBO NOW working without a cable package or HBO GO that comes with any cable TV plan that includes HBO. Both apps provide access both to known hits like Chernobyl or Game of Thrones, and to series shot exclusively for these platforms. Disney+ is another alternative, providing access to Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar movie collections along with platform-specific content for humble $7/mo.
As you are now familiar with the main types of video streaming apps available, let’s discuss the must-have features of such platforms.
Basic features of video streaming apps
There is a set of features that is crucial for any live streaming app. The rest is up to you to implement and get the “WOW!” effect from your customers.
- Onboarding. This is one of the key aspects of the customer’s journey, as the onboarding process must help your users get acquainted with the platform’s features while also helping personalize your offers to their liking. If your app asks questions regarding preferences during showcasing the functionality, you get personalized customer profiles that help craft unique watcher experiences.
- Registration — storing the user’s preferences is easier in the cloud, so all streaming apps require their user to register before or after the onboarding. The basic registration options include an email address or a Facebook profile. The latter helps recommend movies based on what the user’s FB friends recommended.
- Billing. The most logical step after registration is selecting a subscription plan. This means your app must support various payment gateways like Stripe or Braintree, which provide multiple SDKs for processing different types of payments (credit cards, debit cards, pre-paid gift cards, etc.) It might also be wise to enable Google Pay and Apple Pay, Face ID and more innovative payment methods.
- User accounts. These entities represent households and can contain up to 6 user profiles. Each of these profiles stores user’s details and password, watch history and personalized suggestions list. More importantly, parents can create kids’ profiles and limit access to certain inappropriate content.
- Library. Finding the shows you already watched (or not yet watched) is easier with libraries. These are collections of media files grouped according to certain rules. This makes every user’s customer experience truly unique. Another convenient aspect of this approach is the possibility to continue where you left off and keep on watching in a single click.
- Search. A powerful and intuitive search is a must for ensuring the convenient browsing of your content. Trending, recent searches and search history are very useful for building memorable and enjoyable customer journeys. Such tools must be equipped with multiple APIs to ensure your target audience can watch your content from any device.
- Watchlist. Adding liked shows and movies to the watchlist helps to find them later on. In addition, the watchlist can be the place where your service highlights the series that will not be available soon, so the customers can decide what to watch first.
- Varying video quality and subtitles. Not all users will be able to consume your content from devices with unlimited mobile traffic or inside free Wi-Fi coverage. This is why it is important to allow them to select between several video qualities like 480p, 720p HD, etc. Providing multilingual subtitles and audiotracks is also essential to cater to the needs of your target audience. This feature will also be highly appraised by those who try to improve their language mastery by watching movies and TV shows.
- Personal DVR. Each of your users will have access to cloud-based storage of video content and it would be very useful to allow them to record the shows that air while they are not able to watch them. Such a Digital Video Recorder feature is always in high demand by people who don’t want to miss their favorite shows while they are on shift, for example.
- Downloads for offline usage. Enabling your users to download the content for viewing it offline or on other devices is also very good for providing a positive customer experience.
- Screen mirroring. Sometimes your users would like to show some content on a TV without their subscription plan – like at a friend’s house party. Your app must enable them to contact any smart TV over Wi-Fi using Google Chrome Cast or iOS AirPlay APIs and SDKs, so they can use their smartphones as remote controllers.
- Social interactions. Your users would like to rate and leave comments on the shows they watch, as well as sharing their opinions with their friends on Facebook. Your app should support it and as the Facebook profile is one of the basic authentication methods, enabling social sharing and interactions via API will not be a problem.
As we’ve covered the basic features any type of video streaming applications must have, let’s take a look at how they are developed and delivered.
Video apps delivery process with DevOps
Once you decide what type of video streaming platform you want to develop, it’s crucial to ensure it is delivered quickly (to hop aboard the hype train) and with top-notch quality (to stay aboard and satisfy your customers). DevOps methodology enables such software development outcomes. It is an approach to building the software and managing the required infrastructure environments centered around automating all the repetitive operations. This allows to free up time and effort required for improving the product and align the goals of software engineers and cloud architects.
DevOps engineers restructure the whole Agile software development pipeline, automate the majority of testing operations, eliminate effort-consuming manual configuration, which results in up to 80% reduction of software development time, as compared to traditional Waterfall practices.
There are three main ways to obtain access to DevOps expertise — by hiring it in-house, subscribing to tech support from your cloud computing platforms like AWS or Google Cloud — or by working with independent contractors like IT Svit.
- Hiring DevOps in-house is the most preferable way, of course, as it allows you to consolidate the knowledge within your team and ensure product expertise continuity. However, this approach has all the flaws of any other recruitment, as it can be quite time-consuming, it is hard to evaluate the expertise level of a candidate if you do not have such knowledge; it takes some time to onboard the candidate selected; the talent might quit your employ at any moment. etc.
- Subscribing to tech support from cloud computing platforms can be a good choice, as this way you get instant access to a pool of certified DevOps engineers who will use their in-depth knowledge of the respective cloud platform services and features to support your project. However, these services are not free unlike their open-source alternatives, and using them can lead to vendor lock-in, not to mention that cloud platforms have thousands of customers and your requests will be processed as a part of a common queue, which can be quite long.
- Contracting a Managed DevOps services provider is actually the best choice — you get access to skilled teams with established workflow and ready solutions for common challenges. You don’t have to waste time on recruitment, as most MSPs can field the needed team at once, and it will simply become your remote R&D center. Most importantly, IT outsourcing companies like IT Svit can provide both DevOps and dedicated software development teams, thus allowing them to deliver end-to-end solutions.
But how to ensure the contractor you choose is actually able to deliver the services you need? IT Svit can prove its expertise through a variety of positive customer reviews on various platforms like Clutch and GoodFirms, as well as with case studies of accomplished projects.
Case 1 – SymplyFI
SymplyFI is a VoIP and telecom product of The Network Company, a US technology provider. It is an app that allows contacting any person over the IP address or phone number and ensures stable call quality and simplicity of communications for businesses and organizations.
IT Svit was involved in various project aspects:
- redesign and optimization of the customer’s back-end system processes and underlying cloud infrastructure
- building CI/CD pipelines for speeding up the software delivery process
- preparing automated installation packages, shortening the installation time by 93%
- integrating the platform with various third-party modules via API
Our involvement allowed the customer to save up to 35% on various product development aspects and gain 200-300 customers monthly instead of 5-6 with manual product provisioning.
Case 2 — Digital Samba
Digital Samba is an enterprise-grade video-conferencing platform established in 2003. It is a popular platform used by European business, but as it was initially developed more than 15 years ago, it was not well-suited to modern cloud infrastructure and Docker container infrastructure.
IT Svit provided assistance with various tasks:
- containerize the application and split it to microservices to improve its scalability
- optimize Redis database performance
- transform a vast set of configuration data into PHP containers
- implement smart monitoring and alerting system
- automate Kubernetes cluster provisioning and configuration
- manage the dependencies between system components
As a result of IT Svit employment, Digital Samba was able to significantly optimize the inner workings of their systems. Running the video streaming software as a bunch of microservices packed in Docker containers deployed to a Kubernetes cluster atop Terraform infrastructure on the AWS cloud platform helped save the OPEX by 28%. CI/CD pipelines ensured that the team was able to update each of the microservices independently. The in-depth monitoring system reduces the TTR by 90% and keeps the team alerted of any issues (of which there are not many).
Thus said, IT Svit is equipped with the needed expertise, tools and workflows to handle end-to-end development of video streaming apps. We can provide specialists, dedicated teams and full-scale DevOps services for startups and enterprises alike, and we guarantee a top-notch quality of our deliverables. Thus said, if you want to cut a piece of the fast-growing video streaming market — IT Svit can become a one-stop-shop for all your project needs!