How to Create a Video Streaming Website: 10-Step Guide with Business & Technical Parts
Do you want to snap off part of the very lucrative $11.34 billion market of video streaming?
Or possibly you want to know how to start a streaming service like Netflix?
Though, let us tell you, this is no simple task.
Difficulties arise as soon as you start creating a live streaming website. Complex back-end architecture, video streaming protocols, network connectivity, and security are just a few problems that can undermine the success of your future product.
Before you make any decision, dive into this article that explains how to create a video streaming website from scratch:
- MLSDev’s experience and how we’ve overcome the difficulties mentioned
- 10-step process to create a live video streaming website
- technical aspects and features required to develop a streaming site
- marketing and legal aspects of a video-streaming business
- summarizing infographic with key data and statistics
Only no-nonsense info you can act upon!
How to Create a Video Streaming Website: Our Experience
MLSDev, a custom software development company, knows how to make a video streaming website not from the words of others, but based on our own experience. The MLSDev team has performed outstanding work to create ADASA, a video processing and live streaming solution for one of our clients.
At its core, the project had many similarities with Netflix. It needed to provide users with stream-on-demand content that was managed and added only by administrators. When working on ADASA, we identified how to make a live streaming website by utilizing the most suitable tech stack and efficient approach.
The first version of the service provided only the most essential functionality, namely:
- video categories with search and filtering options
- basic interaction with videos (time counter, play and pause buttons, volume control, and slider)
- video broadcasting on smartTVs
- functionality to share a video with friends
The website admins got the functionality to manage available categories, add new ones, and upload video and delete when necessary.
These features were enough to test the first version and identify the main points of interest for potential users.
The front end part of the live streaming website was developed with the following technology stack:
- Markup languages: HTML5, CSS3
- Compatibility: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Edge
Back end architecture was based on the following technologies:
- Programming language: Ruby
- Web framework: Ruby on Rails (5.2)
- Database server: PostgreSQL
- Web servers: Nginx
- Cloud server platform: Amazon Web Services
Thanks to this experience, our team now knows how to create a video streaming website and which technology is useful.
Infographic: How to Start a Streaming Service Like Netflix
This infographic summarizes the information covered in this article in the following sections.
Do you want to create a video streaming website that will rival Netflix?
Contact MLSDev to get a consultation and free quotation to develop a video streaming service. The MLSDev team is ready for any challenges and even the craziest ideas.
How to Start a Streaming Service: 10-Step Process
How can you start a streaming service like Netflix?
The 10-step guide below covers all areas of video streaming site development and explains how to make a video streaming website in detail. Exclusive insight and valuable resources are waiting.
Step 1: Stand out by identifying USPs & your niche
Every successful project starts with market research and general concept creation.
The first thing you should understand and remember is that trying to create a website like Netflix or Twitch is that this road leads nowhere. These sites are providing services all over the world and the task is to be different in order to make your app successful.
Coming up with a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and your positioning on the market is a valuable key to your future success. These will help you decide the best way to start a streaming service.
During this stage, you need to choose a service name and domain based on your location and decide which product you will be developing.
Aside from on-demand video streaming solutions, there are some specialization options, for example:
- streaming sporting events
- video game streaming websites
- live-broadcasting of events (e.g. speeches, conferences)
- streaming of personal content curated by users
- IP or home web cameras broadcasting
- skill-sharing streaming
- live tour platforms
As you can see, the options are unlimited. When considering how to create a video streaming website, you should not feel limited to these options. Thorough market research will help you decide how to start a streaming service:
- decide which market you will launch the solution to
- find out which project concept has the biggest potential
- identify which niches of the market are still lacking great products
- study the demographics and test your ideas among potential users
- decide how to make a video streaming website based on the collected data
Interested in knowing what makes an app successful?
Check out our detailed guide How to Make Your App Successful: A Detailed Step-by-Step Guide where you will find an in-depth overview of the main techniques that can help you bring your digital project to fruition.
Step 2: Create a business plan & choose a monetization model
After identifying a USP and choosing the type of solution, it’s time to move on to business planning.
Covering all the steps that a digital product should go through will help to efficiently identify problems that might arise, allocate resources, successfully prepare for future upscaling, and decide how to create a video streaming website in the most efficient way.
1. Application of Business Model Canvas
Application of the BMC to the planning process will allow for the structuring of all elements that describe the value of your proposition and product.
The model is based on 9 blocks that cover key activities, resources, value propositions, customer segments, etc.
It is important to say that the more effort you put in at this stage to fill in the canvas, the more unlikely it is that you will miss something important that could endanger your solution in the future.
2. Prepare for new markets
Depending on the type of product you’ve chosen, you might need to think about content localization, especially if you’re planning on licensing content from abroad.
If you want to launch your product on multiple markets, you might need to translate it into multiple languages. The hardest part is to find a company specialized in the translation of video content into different languages - a company that will best be able to deliver high-quality results.
3. Accumulate content & partner with content creators
When developing a service for user-generated-content, it is important to partner with video content creators. The number one goal is to get those initial users that will generate content, like video bloggers that are already famous. Otherwise, you will need to generate content yourself or opt for streaming video on websites by license.
4. Decide on monetization models for your video service
If you are interested in knowing how to start a streaming service that will bring in money, you should understand how to generate revenue.
Generally, video streaming platforms utilize one of the following monetization models:
- Subscription – a payment that users need to make (monthly, yearly, bi-yearly, etc.)
- Freemium – some content is delivered for free, while exclusive content requires additional payment for each view or for each video with unlimited views
- Advertising – placement of advertisements inside an app that will cover your expenses and bring revenue
- Ad Blocking - option to block advertising at an additional price
When you are just thinking about how to create a video streaming website, the last two options can be left for further versions of your website, when you have enough users.
Do you want to know about the most popular ways app and web creators get money?
Check out the article How Do Free Apps Make Money? to find valuable insight. Learn about the main monetization approaches with real-life examples provided.
5. Continuous video-streaming service improvement & expansion
With the growth of your solution for web video streaming, you might face the need to expand functionality and add support for additional platforms. Usually, the logical step once you create a live streaming website is to develop custom iOS and Android apps, possibly with new features. This development will help the service appeal to a broader audience.
Step 3: License your content & get all the paperwork done
Every business should abide by the law and a live video streaming website is no exception.
Registering a business legally should be the first step on the road to its creation. If you are not sure how to make a video streaming website legal, the first advice is to have a consultation with a qualified lawyer.
The second part is connected with licensing the content or its creation. This procedure depends on the type of content that the service will broadcast.
It is important to get in touch with the right-holders of content you want to show and negotiate the terms of cooperation with them. It is also possible to buy exclusive rights for some films or series, meaning that no other website will have the right to show the content. If you are considering how to make a video streaming website that will be able to turn one-time users into loyal customers, this is the best approach.
When you are questioning specifically how to start a streaming service like Netflix, you might need to deal with two major distributors in the USA:
Note: Companies spend millions of dollars on these agreements and the creation of an application of this variety may require serious investment. For instance, in 2018, Netflix spent $13 billion on content licensing and production.
If you are thinking about how to create a video streaming website for user-generated content, you will also need to deal with the legal aspects of content creation and distribution. The task at hand for a platform like this is to both allow users to upload their content and ensure the preservation of their rights for the content they create.
Step 4: Select & hire a capable software development firm
One of the secrets of how to create a video streaming website is to hire a reliable company to fulfill all development-related tasks. A good idea is to search for a vendor you can outsource, which could save up to 70% of your budget. For example, the region of Eastern Europe is known for a good price-service quality ratio.
The process of finding the right software developer or a dedicated development team can include the following:
- Check ratings and review platforms like Clutch.co, GoodFirms, Manifest, etc.
- Study portfolios and experience
- Analyze tech specialization and capabilities
- Check or ask for reviews from recent clients
Presented below is a step by step process of finding a web development outsourcing firm that knows how to create a video streaming website.
Want to know how to make a video make a video streaming website by hiring a reliable development company?
Check out the article Outsource Web Development Wisely: Useful Tips and learn the key secrets of working with outsourced companies.
Step 5: Come up with functionality for your streaming site
During this step, you need to decide how to create a video streaming website in terms of provided functionality.
Up until this moment, you need to have define the type of video streaming website you are going to build and whether you need to create functionality for a few types of users:
- Video consumer – end-user who watches the content provided by the video streaming platform
- Video creator – this role will be required if you are going to create a digital product like the YouTube streaming website. The features should allow users to upload the content they’ve created
- Admin – functionality that allows the administrators of the video streaming solution to moderate content, upload videos, or delete pieces of video content that are uploaded by users and go against your product’s rules
When considering how to start a streaming service, it is important to understand that the feature-list can be broad, namely:
- Home page & onboarding – the page all users land on as soon as they open a website. Utilization of the onboarding process can help quickly introduce users to the service.
- User registration – registration via email or social media sign-in is a must-have for all content streaming websites.
- User profile – a place where users will be able to save favorite videos, view their watch history, save for later, etc.
- Content search – a search bar with filters can help users find relevant content. As a part of further website iterations, it is possible to integrate a content recommendation algorithm, which will provide recommendations based on viewed videos, likes, etc.
- Chat & comments – ability to comment on videos and chat with other users.
- Reviews & ratings – features to collect user feedback by allowing them to write reviews and rate videos.
- Push notifications – can be used to notify users of new TV shows, episodes, and other useful updates.
- Payment gateways – it is possible to integrate a payment system (e.g. Braintree, Stripe) with the help of APIs (PayPal). Later on, when you are developing an Android or iOS app, it is possible to add support for Apple and Google Pay as well.
- Settings – selection of sound level, activation of subtitles, play and pause options, and selection of video quality for advanced solutions.
- Screenshot ban – prevent users from taking screenshots or recording the video content.
- Localization – multiple language support.
- Geo-blocking – depending on the regions in which the website will work, the need may arise to prevent some content from being accessed from certain locations.
- Download features – ability to download and save videos on users’ devices.
- Admin panel – provides access to the service admins with ability to edit videos, moderate content, delete content, ban users, and other “behind the scenes” operations.
- Analytics – feature that is not visible to users. This feature helps analyze user behavior and improve service operations based on the data received.
- Content & chat moderation – admin moderates content in chats, can delete conversations, and even ban some users for a better user experience.
Note: The more functionality you add and the more complex it becomes, the more time and funds you need to allocate for video streaming website development.
Do you need an in-depth overview of all the factors that influence the cost of website development?
Check out the article How Much Does it Cost to Build a Website?, where you’ll find a detailed overview of all the aspects of website development and the costs associated.
Step 6: Create a customer-centric UX/UI design for a video streaming site
When thinking about how to create a video streaming website that gains lots of users, there is no better way to achieve that goal than with user-friendly service design.
The design process should focus on the following points:
- User experience – an integral part of all streaming video websites. UX should be designed in such a way that it will smoothly lead customers through their desired actions.
- Unique style – if you are wondering how to start a streaming service that customers will love, pay close attention to the style of your solution. Even if you are wondering how to start a streaming service like Netflix, direct copying of the design of another solution is the worst decision. Finding a unique style and creating a user interface that will be unlike any other is a significant step in the right direction.
- Responsive on all devices – the diversity of available devices creates the need for any design to be responsive on all screen sizes and platforms. If you want to know how to create a video streaming website successfully, make it accessible so that it increases the potential user base.
Are you interested in starting your own video streaming business?
Contact us for the initial consultation and we will elaborate on your video streaming website concept from a business and technical perspective. We can advise you on the best way to develop your project as well as provide you with an approximate project budget and timeline.
Step 7: Behind the scenes: Tech stack to create a streaming website
In this chapter you are going to learn how to make a video streaming website from a technical standpoint.
Choosing the right architecture, video streaming protocols, and setting up a streaming video server will help make the product’s launch smooth and its work seamless.
Though this part of the digital solution remains invisible to end-users, it drives all of the operations on the back-end. Once you understand all the behind-the-scenes processes of custom web application development, you will know how to create a video streaming website in the best possible way.
1. Amazon media converter
AWS Elemental MediaConvert is a service that is used to create video on demand streaming services and content that can be broadcast on different devices and at different resolutions.
The service solves the problem of building and supporting a video processing infrastructure, which requires substantial financial and technical investment. The service can convert files into various formats, including HLS, DASH ISO, CMAF, MPEG-4, and Apple QuickTime.
2. Video streaming protocols
Video streaming protocol defines how the video will be transferred from the server to the end-users over the internet. Among all solutions, HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) protocol is considered to be the best choice today, as more and more digital products rely on it.
HLS protocol cuts the content into small parts – each 10 seconds long with a .ts file extension (MPEG2 Transport Stream) - and delivers them to end-users. At the same time, the HTTP server creates a .M3U8 playlist that serves as an index for video parts.
Many companies have started to use this technology, as its benefits are outstanding:
- HLS streaming is played on HTML5 video players. As these are open specifications, anyone can use or change them free of charge.
- The ability for content creators to encode videos at multiple quality settings. For example, if a user gets into an area with a bad internet connection, the HLS protocol defines the decline in bandwidth and starts delivering content of a lower-quality. The result is a reduction in buffering, stuttering, and other issues.
- HLS protocol is a must-have technology for video streaming on smartphones and tablets.
There are some other video streaming protocols that may be used in particular cases. Check out the information in the table below.
|RTMP||Real-Time Messaging protocol is also known as Flash. Though it used to be one of the most popular protocols of the past decade, it is now considered a legacy solution and many services are switching to HLS.|
|MPEG-DASH||This is one of the latest protocols that hasn’t gained wide popularity yet.|
|Apple HLS||HTTP Live Streaming is a good option to use as it supports all Google Chrome browsers, Android, Linux, Microsoft, and macOS devices as well as several set-top boxes, smart TVs, and other players.|
|Low-Latency HLS||Low-Latency HLS is an extension of the existing HLS protocol that is widely deployed and used today. It offers new functionality in areas like a generation of partial segments, playlist delta updates, blocking of playlist reload, etc.|
|Low-Latency CMAF||This one is used for DASH (Common Media Application Format). A variety of players and CDNs will soon support this non-proprietary solution. Low-latency CMAF lends itself to live sporting events, auctions, gambling, preload hints and blocking of media downloads, rendition reports, faster bit rate switching, and more.|
|Microsoft Smooth Streaming||Great protocol to employ for Microsoft and iOS devices, Xbox, and many smart TVs.|
|Adobe HDS||HTTP Dynamic Streaming protocol that is not widely supported (Flash Player, Adobe AIR). On the contrary, It enables on-demand and live-adaptive bit rate video delivery of standards-based MP4 media over regular HTTP connections. HDS lets you leverage existing cache infrastructures and provides tools for integration of content preparation into existing encoded workflows.|
|WebRTC||Web Real-Time Communications is another protocol, but one that can only be used to create a video streaming website, rather than for mobile applications.|
|SRT||Secure Reliable Transport protocol uses secure streams and easy firewall traversal to optimize streaming performance and deliver high-quality video, even over the most unreliable networks. It is a royalty-free, open-source video transport protocol that supports low-latency, high-performance streaming, over noisy or unpredictable networks such as the public internet.|
|WOWZ||This is a TCP-based messaging protocol that achieves lightning-fast video delivery, broadcast-quality resolution, and interactivity via bi-directional data flow. Mostly, this protocol is used for interactive streaming, browser-based broadcasting, gaming and auctions, remote monitoring, online financial trading, and second-screen experiences for live events.|
3. Stable storage
If you need to know how to create a video streaming website that will be able to withstand high load, think about choosing stable storage.
One of the possible best solutions is the Amazon S3 Cloud, which easily integrates with the Amazon media converter. After the latter converts content into all possible formats, MediaConvert sends it to Amazon S3, where content is processed and stored for further distribution.
4. High load of the server
The most difficult part of the question of how to create a video streaming website is the potential high load on servers. This is why these solutions require the creation of an entire server infrastructure that can withstand any traffic loads. The support of such processing power requires a lot of technical and financial resources.
AWS Lambda is the best solution in terms of cost and technical efficiency. It runs all the back-end code without the need to manage servers, take care of their security, or ensure further scalability.
5. Good network connectivity
Even if you are starting a small video streaming website, further growth is impossible without scaling. At the same time, regardless of the number of users and their geolocations, your digital product should deliver good network connectivity without delays. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is one of the ways to create a video streaming website that will help prevent server overload and will also shorten request and response time.
AWS S3 Cloudfront is a CDN by Amazon that integrates with Amazon S3. Instead of streaming content directly from the latter, Cloudfront can be used to serve and protect content while optimizing the performance of the solution.
6. High bandwidth
When trying to identify how to start a streaming service that will bring high-quality video to users, you should not forget about high bandwidth. When using the above solutions, you won’t need to worry about the bandwidth that will allow for content delivery in high resolution. For example, the streaming of 4K video requires the bandwidth to be 13-26 MBps.
You need a minimum download speed of 3 megabits per second to watch a single video stream in a clear, standard definition. The best internet speed for HD streaming is 5Mbps, and if you go all the way up to 4K streaming, or ultra HD, your bandwidth should start at 25Mbps.
For different stream resolutions, it is necessary to consider a different bit rate, as follows:
|Stream Resolution||Streaming Bit Rate|
|4K||13 – 34 Mbps|
|1080p||3 – 6 Mbps|
|720p||1.5 – 4 Mbps|
|420p||0.5 – 2 Mbps|
|360p||0.4 – 1 Mbps|
How to start a streaming service like Netflix and have the same video quality?
The Netflix streaming service recommends the following internet speeds:
- 1 Mbps for viewing on a laptop computer
- 2 Mbps for SD video on a TV
- 4 Mbps for 720p HD video
- 5 Mbps for "the best video and audio experience"
Security concerns many aspects of video streaming website creation. A lot of factors ensure the security of your solution and you need to pay close attention to them when you are trying to decide how to start a streaming service.
- Network security – a CDN allows video streaming worldwide, ensures stable connectivity, and provides content even in the event of server failure. CDNs offer protection from DDOS attacks and a backup system that ensures that the video content won’t go offline due to any type of issue.
- Domain restrictions – with the help of features such as referrers, it is possible to prevent unauthorized sharing of content on other websites by pasting the copied link from the source code.
- Referrer restrictions - you can build whitelists and blacklists, if needed. Websites that are allowed to share your content will be on the whitelist, and other pirated and malicious websites can be blacklisted.
- “Paywall” payment security - if you plan to generate revenue, implementing payment security is crucial. A secure video streaming solution must have a paywall to accept payments. This security setup must include SSL encryption, which is a standard protection for online transactions.
- Geographic restrictions – there might be a need to restrict some locations from accessing your content due to the specific terms of copyright or licensing agreements.
- Password protection - this allows you to restrict video and live stream access to whoever has your selected password. This is a great way to quickly launch private and protected videos and share them with a select audience.
- Copyright control - when a user shares live streams and videos on a platform like YouTube or Facebook, these companies gain rights to your videos. Video download tools and file-sharing websites target these social media platforms, so it is important to take precautions to avoid the copying and reproduction of your content illegally.
- Dynamic token security system - this system ensures that geographic and domain restrictions and other security measures are constantly checked. This process is completely transparent to users and if incorrect tokens are present or no tokens are there, the video playback will fail.
- HTTPS video delivery - HTTPS is a common encrypted web communication standard used by websites to keep data private. HTTPS offers security by preventing tampering in transit along with providing authentication. Encrypted data cannot be modified while moving through the web without destroying it.
- AES video encryption - in video streaming, broadcasters can add AES video encryption to a stream for security purposes. When the video is encrypted, a special key scrambles the video content. Unless the viewer has the correct access key, they can’t watch the video. Furthermore, if they try to intercept it, all they’ll see is a scrambled mess of useless data.
Monolithic and microservices are two types of software architectures that are used side by side. Even still, monolithic architecture is more often considered a traditional way to create digital products, while microservices present a more modern approach to development.
The above technologies are used to create microservices that comprise different independent blocks that serve the same task. Utilizing microservices, it is possible to solve bottlenecks and possible problems with further website scaling.
Function as a Service (FaaS) is a more advanced way to create web products. FaaS is one of the ways if you are questioning how to create a video streaming website with a “serverless” architecture that only requires payment for processing powers when they are used. This approach was used to create ADASA, which allowed us to avoid difficulties associated with the creation and maintenance of complex architecture.
Interested in knowing all the tech details about the differences between the two types of software architecture?
Dive into the article Monolithic vs. Microservices Architecture: Which is Right for Your App to understand how the two are both different and similar.
Below, you can see the overall presentation of all the technologies that can be used during the creation of video streaming solutions.
|Programming languages for mobile app||Swift (for iOS), Kotlin or Java (for Android)|
|Data management systems||Atlas-DB, Cassandra, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL|
|Cloud platforms||AWS services
Amazon Lambda (running code without managing or supervising servers)
Amazon CloudWatch (monitoring and management service)
Amazon Media Convert (on-demand video transcoding service)
Amazon S3 Bucket (comprehensive security and compliance
|Analytics and insights||Google Mobile App Analytics, Flurry Analytics, Hadoop, Hive, MixPanel, Localytics, Mode, Parquet, Pig, Presto, Spark|
|CDN services||Amazon CloudFront, Cloudflare, Fastly, Open Connect|
|Streaming protocols||RTMP, Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming, Apple HTTP Live Streaming, M2TS, MPEG-DASH, Microsoft Smooth Streaming, WebRTC, RTSP/RTP|
|Media formats||MKV, MP4, AVCHD, AVI, DMW, MOV, FLV, WMV, SWF|
|Codecs||H.264/AVC, FFmpeg, XviD|
|Media containers||MP4, FLV|
|Geolocation||Google Maps API, MapKit/Core Location frameworks (for iOS)|
|Messaging||Firebase, SendBird, PubNub, Twilio|
Step 8: Promote your video streaming website
These days, it is not enough just to know how to make a social media website or how to make a video streaming website from a technical point of view. It is equally as important to make users aware of your solution. By promoting your video streaming website, you will be able to find your audience.
Here is a quick overview of the possible promotion plan:
- Launch marketing campaign – create landing page prior to project launch and set up paid advertisements to get a list of interested subscribers in advance.
- SEO – engage in the optimization of your website content for search engines to increase your positions in search ranking.
- Influencer marketing – a very useful resource for promoting a new streaming service. Working with bloggers and other influencers, makes it possible to connect with an audience of millions.
- SMM– social media marketing continues to be a popular and effective way to connect with potential customers.
- Events – don’t miss a chance to promote a new streaming website at local and international events like conferences, startup meetings, etc.
Step 9: Test the video streaming website before the final launch
When looking for an answer regarding how to create a video streaming website, it is important to perform software testing explicitly. By underestimating testing, it is possible to overlook some serious problems with functionality and compatibility and launch a product that will fail to deliver the needed results.
Testing is the answer to the question of how to start a streaming service successfully and without issues. There are a few possible ways to test:
- Functional testing – helps check to which degree the implemented features align with the requirements of the client and potential customers. Functional testing includes suitability, accuracy, interoperability, compliance, and security testing.
- Test automation – the use of automation tools that help determine the quality of code.
- Usability testing – method that helps determine how easy it is to use the website.
- Configuration and compatibility testing – checking how the digital products works on different hardware and with different types of software.
- End-to-end testing – used to determine the maintenance of data integrity.
- Load and stress testing – testing under deliberately high performance to check the stability of the solution.
- Integration testing – helps identify possible issues due to faults in the interaction between integrated units.
- Localization and internationalization testing – chec successful app adaptation to different languages and regions.
Step 10: Get feedback from your video content consumers regularly
Further scaling and improvements should be made based on customer feedback. If they identify any issues, try to solve them during subsequent software development iterations.
There are a few options you can utilize to collect customer feedback:
- live chats
- short surveys
- social media reviews
- in-person interviews
- analysis of collected metrics (e.g. retention rate, daily/monthly active users, daily sessions, lifetime value, etc.)
It is necessary to categorize the data, e.g. based on the type of feedback (relating to bugs, issues, feature demands, etc.), customers (new or loyal customers), positive and negative, and other criteria.
This information will definitely help you decide how to make a video streaming website even better and in which direction to move next.
Check out the image below summarizing 10 steps to create a video streaming service from scratch.
Final Words about How Can You Create Your Own Netflix
The creation of online video streaming services is a complex task containing a lot of aspects for consideration.
To fully understand how to create a video streaming website and especially figure out how to start a streaming service like Netflix, it is necessary to know all the ins and outs of building a complex back-end architecture, setting up a video streaming server, and finding a reliable software development company.
Do you want to develop a new video streaming website that will rival Netflix?
Contact MLSDev to discuss the project of building a video streaming website in detail. Our top specialists will provide you with a free consultation and an estimate for your future project. We know how to make a video streaming website and have previous experience working on similar solutions.