Building a Streaming Service: Working Principles, Costs, Features Guide, and More

How to Build a Netflix- or TikTok-Similar Solution and Succeed?

The Internet simplified people’s lives a lot: they can find each needed TV series, movie, or a program. Netflix — one of the most well-known video streaming services — has played a large part in this simplification, giving people access to piles of the newest HQ video content without annoying ads. So, it’s reasonable that people try to replicate Netflix’s overwhelming success and build their streaming service.

In this post, we’ll find out how to build a high-class video streaming service through the examples of Netflix, Hangouts, Tik-Tok, or Disney+.

The Working Principles of Netflix Streaming

Netflix is the largest subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service with a huge, ever-expanding collection of cartoons and films. This data is available unrestrictedly for clients that paid a monthly subscription.


This streaming service is accessible for different operating systems and gadgets (e.g., Smart TVs, Android, or Mac OS) and has a broad functionality set, including:

  • Five separate profiles creation in an account
  • Series/films recommendation according to your preferences (CineMatch algorithm)
  • Different videos available via existing library or content search functionality

The app can better categorize films you enjoy by ranking the favorite ones or including the search categories appropriate for the movie you like. Profile creation in your account can be helpful for your family and friends to obtain their personal Netflix experience based on their tastes.

How to Build a Netflix-Like Application

During the live streaming app development, you should follow the below steps:

app like netflix

Develop a Proper Strategy

Such a strategy consists of the following steps:

Choose your niche. You need to figure out what kind of streaming specificity you have without a rush. For example, what kinds of movies or TV series will be available on your website or mobile app? Perhaps you want to create a streaming service for kids with cartoons and new TV episodes or something else.

Plan your content. The content is the core of a video streaming service. So, if you want to learn how to make an appealing video streaming service, you’ll need to think about the kind of material you’ll have, how often you’ll update it, or upload new TV show episodes.

Create your style. Preparing a design for your upcoming Netflix-like service, you can adopt a similar style or build your interface from scratch. But keep in mind that having your particular style is preferable to copying established examples.

Obtain content licensing. To comply with the law, you must get permits for all forms of material that you intend to stream. In a nutshell, you should obtain a public performance license, rent a film from a distributor, or directly contact a holder. Choosing the second option, you must negotiate with a studio that owns the desired video rights.

Take into account all platforms. If you want to establish a website like Netflix, you should also consider developing a mobile app. It is essential: many stats remark that most people prefer to use their mobile devices over their computers. A mobile version of your service (a native iOS/Android app) would be the preferred alternative for such users.

Concentrate on your target audience. Finally, you should identify your target market. You can apply to social media to promote your streaming service and find the target audience. Youtube is another powerful instrument to help you sell your services and attract the target audience, publishing videos about your product. Moreover, you can send appealing newsletters about your product to your potential core audience.

Prepare a Business Model

If you want to establish a website or an app similar to Netflix, you should expect to invest at least a few years in making your company viable. That’s why you should choose an appropriate business model for your future solution.

The monetization. You can provide users with a free trial app version for a month or more and then charge a monthly, quarterly, or yearly fee for a user subscription. You should also think about multi-currency compatibility and connectivity with a variety of payment gateways so that subscribers may pay in their currency.

Lifetime value. If you follow different users’ activities and events, you’ll find out that the clients should be more engaged in your services to pay for them over a long time. That’s why you should follow each client to improve your earnings. Netflix was able to limit client outflow by up to 4% by monitoring consumer behavior and data.

Marketing expenditures. Creating streaming software like Netflix is a time-consuming process where a reliable marketing plan is critical to success. It is not sufficient to just calculate the client lifetime value — you must be aware of the lifetime value of consumers acquired through various sales channels.

Choose a Tech Stack

The following list is a tech stack with the most effective tools made to demonstrate multiple technological alternatives for creating a Netflix-like streaming platform.

  • For a web version: C#, NodeJS (to create Hulu, Disney+, or Netflix-similar product); NodeJS (for building a Hangouts or TikTok/Instagram-like solution)
  • For a mobile app: Swift (for iOS), Kotlin (for Android apps)
  • For a TV streaming solution: C#, React, React Samsung TV, NodeJS (to build a Disney+, Netflix, or Hulu-similar app)

Many businesses rely on third-party services to accelerate development and deliver a functional MVP. We’ve compiled a list of the most generally utilized third-party technologies to assist you in determining how to build a streaming platform from a technical perspective.

  • AWS
  • Web RTC +
  • Wowza

Build MVP First

Netflix is a multifunctional application requiring a powerful backend to perform streaming data transfers. The more functionality it has, the more the price will increase. To keep costs down during the development process, it’s best to simply include the most important functionality in the minimum viable product (MVP) version.

We’ve put up a quick list of the MVP elements that such platforms require. The costs shown below are rough estimates provided just to assist you in better understanding the cost range and made based on a $50 hourly rate for Ukrainian devs’ services.

This way, to build a Hangouts-similar app with 1 server and 1 mobile app included, you need to spend approximately 1,050 hours and $52,500. Creating an Instagram- or TikTok-like service having 1 mobile app and 1 server, you’ll pay roughly $59,000 for 1,180 hours of work. If you need to develop a Netflix, Disney+, or Hulu-like product with 1 server and 2 mobile apps, you’ll spend about 1,432 hours and $71,600.

Platform. There isn’t much of a distinction between iOS and Android regarding mobile app development services, but building an MVP version of your service, you should start with only one OS.

Design. Keep in mind that a simple and intuitive design is significant in Netflix-similar solutions. Users will get the information they need in the blink of an eye.

Let’s look through the most common MVP features you should implement.

mvp features

The registration page is the first element that should not be overlooked. It will be incredibly simple for potential users to register by email and social media.

Payment gateway. If you’re planning to utilize an Apple or Google operating system, you can use Android and iOS digital payment platforms.

Integrated search. You can check the content your friends watch and movies they enjoy.

Discussion and feedback. Leave feedback and interact with other people.

Push-notifications. For instance, you will get an alert when a new TV series or show is released.

You can also implement user account, admin panel, multi-language support, settings regulation, and screenshot blocking, among other MVP features.

Think Out Additional Functionality

After you build an MVP version of your streaming service, provide your users with additional interesting functionality from the list below.

But firstly, let’s check rough functionality estimations for streaming services like Netflix, Hangouts, Instagram Stories, and TikTok. The approximate cost is determined using a $50 average hourly rate for Ukrainian developers’ services.

  • For 1 server and 2 mobile apps of Hulu, Disney+, or Netflix-like solution, you’ll roughly need 2,655 hours and $133,250
  • For 3 servers and 2 mobile apps of TikTok or Instagram-like app — $114,050 and 2,281 hours
  • For 2 servers and 2 mobile apps of Hangouts-similar product — 2,949 hours and $147,450

Now we’ll consider some of the features you may add to your product after the MVP release.

Ratings and reviews. You may rate a television show or a film, generating your rating based on the opinions of other site users.

Streaming video in real-time mode. Live to stream certain TV shows, sporting events, and other activities.

The CineMatch algorithm on Netflix offers video materials to viewers according to their tastes. You can also add something similar to your streaming solution.

You may also implement video quality regulation, content downloading, geo-blocking, or any other functionality that would make your app more user-friendly and modern.

Keep Track of Recommendations

You should know that your streaming service must follow several critical standards ensuring its correct functioning and, as a result, directly influencing users’ engagement.

The high bandwidth and minimal lagging will be provided by combining a dependable video streaming protocol and a CDN.

Excellent network connection. Think about a Content Delivery Network (CDN) use to ensure reliable connectivity or avoid server overloading, among other things.

Security. You should consider token security, domain limitation, geo-restrictions, and SSL encryption to secure your service from unwanted incursions from outside parties.

Video streaming protocols choice. There are several streaming protocols, such as WebRTC, HLS, and RTMP, each with its own set of pros and cons to consider.

Safe and secure storage. To give customers flawless content delivery and a trustworthy experience, all of your films should be kept on a solid and well-tested hosting platform.

Final Hints to Think About

A Netflix-similar solution is quite complex to build, so we’ve prepared for you a list of things you should care about before you launch the product.

The solution’s determination. Accurate estimation and planning will undoubtedly contribute to success during the development process.

The user’s point of view. Monitor how your users interact with your content, from menu organization to player design.

Personalization and big data. Conduct A/B testing and create different recommendation models based on varied analytical data.

A marketing strategy preparing. Increase your audience size, income, and advertising methods using marketing capabilities.

Analytics. You can enhance your rates by analyzing and collecting data and think what has to be changed to attract new customers or promote loyalty among existing clients.

Quality of service (QoS). It can relate to various app features, including user experience, streaming speed, content transfer, delivery, and playback.

Multi platforming. You must select the platform that is best appropriate for your situation. Keep in mind that customers want to watch content on various devices, and many of them expect to see 4K resolution.

The Total Cost of Developing a Netflix-Like Service

The final price will be determined just by the number of features added to the app. Of course, the cost of developing such an app will vary greatly depending on your selection, but we’ll present an estimate of the overall development cost of a Netflix-like app.

Please keep in mind that all fees are approximate, and your streaming service’s ultimate pricing may differ. Everything is dependent on your unique needs. We also include meetings and the preparation of code documentation in the fee.

So, the MVP version may approximately cost from $59,000 to $71,600. A video streaming app with an extended feature set may require roughly from $114,050 to $147,450.

Wrapping Up

The represented cost estimation of building a Netflix-like service is rough. However, if you need to obtain an accurate one for your product, you can apply to a competent software development team. The specialists will offer you precise project estimations, consult you about all the disturbing business questions, and help you create a competitive and cost-efficient video streaming product.

Author’s bio

Katherine Orekhova is a technical writer at Cleveroad – a mobile app development company. She is keen on technology and innovations. Her passion is to tell people about the latest tech trends in the world of IT.

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