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Launching A Netflix or Hulu Business or How To Build Own Video Streaming Service
Television and movies have had a long way from the original three channels and requirement to go to the theater. Today, video content is streamed across multiple devices such as tablets, phones, and smart televisions allowing content to be viewed anywhere in the world at any time. This new method of viewing video content has given rise to a variety of streaming services to provide different types of content to meet the viewers’ preferences.
There are three main types of streaming services: services that provide original content and act as a streaming library for content, services for live television streaming in standalone cord cutting applications, and services that allow users to stream their channels using an existing cable service account. Each caters to a different type of user preferences.
Streaming Library and Original Content
This type of streaming service is one of the better-known options used by companies such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Showtime, Starz, CBS All Access, and others. Streaming services following this model are typically oriented towards web streaming.
Users can log into an account in a web browser to view content that has been uniquely licensed for a specific amount of time, typically a month, before being exchanged for new content. Such streaming services even develop streaming apps for users to get the same experience using smartphones and tablets.
- It’s known for having one of the broadest and largest libraries of films available, with several TV shows that have finished airing on television available as well.
- It has several exclusive series options on their service to entice users.
- It offers multiple options for payment and subscription to meet a range of users’ needs.
- It has a wide collection of TV shows, both off-air and currently running with many episodes becoming available the day after they air on traditional television channels.
- It has a selection of films available along with some original content of their own.
- It offers a free subscription option exclusive to their web streaming to allow users to watch content with commercials through their web browser only.
HBO Now, Showtime, CBS All Access, Starz, etc.
These are mostly specialized services. They contain mostly original content, though they also contain some productions made by other studios that they host on their sites.
Starz markets itself as catering towards film buffs, offering a broad variety of both classic and modern films. A newcomer is Disney Now, where users can stream all their favorite Disney content anywhere.
Traditional cable television subscriptions or movie streaming sites have become too expensive or have too long of contracts for some users, who would like to have a more affordable television option that they can opt out of whenever they feel like it.
Enter the cord-cutting services, including offerings such as DirecTV NOW, YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, Sling, CBS All Access, and others. They intend to accomplish the same goal of providing the experience of watching traditional television channels but adding in extra features for a mobile generation.
Unlike the streaming library and original content option, the cord cutters offer a live stream of television programs and special events, rather than having to wait for the content to exist already. This is a good model for users that absolutely must be kept up to date with the latest episodes from their favorite shows, or want something that will just play videos without really selecting what to watch.
For a business, this typically involves a more long term contract than leasing programming on a monthly basis. Thus, it is more expensive to maintain but allows a business to charge more per month of its users as a result of gaining access to channels.
Hulu includes its library and original content along with the ability to watch live television, and some of the cable alternative options allow for cloud DVR, where users can record shows to watch later. To make these more appealing, there are options for adding HBO Now and Showtime, or other movie library services to the bundle to also allow for movie playback whenever a user wants.
Streaming Cable Channels
For users that already subscribe to a cable network, but would also like to use a video streaming app to watch their favorite shows on the go, the major mobile operating systems have apps for individual channels that can be logged into using a cable subscription account. These include HBO GO, Showtime Anytime, Xfinity Stream, and a variety of individual channels.
Most channels don’t require an extra fee for this feature and allow users to watch shows and movies from channels that are not part of the above two categories yet.
Starting a Streaming Service
While the three types of services may look quite different from each other, the underlying technology that allows them to work is largely the same:
- An internet server is required to be able to store data and transmit it to users wirelessly.
- Storage space is required on these servers to store full-size video files on these servers. This will require selection of a video format, such as H.264, H.265, MP4, etc. each with different benefits in buffering and quality (this will need to be decided on since higher qualities also require more time to download and many users would prefer not to wait).
- A database of usernames, passwords, and account information is necessary to keep track of who can log in, whether you can receive payments, and keep track of preferences and saved files in the cloud.
- Companies sorting account information, video files and personal preferences absolutely must utilize encryption codes and security measures on the servers to prevent data hacking and theft of property.
- Live stream services will require a transcoder that can convert the live feeds from a partner with television into a streamable file format.
Once the underlying architecture has been engineered, you can move forward to the more fun task of user interface design. In order to create a streaming app, you have to decide on the hardware to code for and the layout of the video streaming app. The interface can be the single point of failure for any service. These are the things you should consider when creating a video streaming service:
- Decide if you will be web streaming through a browser and an app, exclusively through a browser, or exclusively through an app.
- Keep the layout simple and easy to use. Users want to quickly find content and watch it without having to figure out how to navigate.
- When users watch a video, they want to play or pause it quickly, adjust the volume, and navigate to find the spot they left off at, or to find a specific scene. Pay attention to designing an interface that’s simple and intuitive.
All this will require a team of developers and a unique angle to attract customers. With the shift in video consumption and the variety of startup opportunities for content streaming and creation, there has never been a better time to create a competing video streaming service.