Live Streaming Apps: Your A-Z Guide

Due to COVID-19, live streaming apps became one of the most popular entertainment options for people across the globe. And it isn’t going anywhere. People use live streaming apps to stay on the same page with their favorite celebrities, interact with streamers in real-time, and find influencers based on their interests. According to recent research, in 2020 a live streaming market was valued at $50.11 billion in 2020. Due to constant investments and new startups, a live streaming market is expected to reach $223.98 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 21%.

Live Streaming Apps Your A Z Guide

However, live streaming apps can’t be based only on the idea of streaming. With a wide range of streaming platforms, it’s crucial to create an app that offers some distinctive features, clear design, and uses modern streaming protocols to deliver quality content. To ease your task, OpenGeeksLab covered the concept of live streaming apps, compiled an extensive feature list, and shared the most profitable revenue models. Let’s get started.

What are Live Streaming Apps?

Live streaming apps allow users to broadcast video content to a wide audience.

Live streaming apps are divided into two types. The first category implies broadcasting videos from users’ cameras or screen capture in real-time to viewers. Apps like Twitch, Instagram, YouTube Live are the most prominent examples of live streaming apps. The second type lets users access on-demand video content via apps. Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and similar services are great examples of an on-demand streaming service.

Mind that in this article we’ll concentrate on live streaming apps.

Today, live streaming apps have become more than just entertainment. Companies gain huge profits from advertising, partnerships, subscriptions, and more. For example, gaming video content alone brought $2 billion to Twitch in 2020.

People move on to live streaming due to its narrowed focus. Streaming platforms are open for everyone, thus every viewer can find content that they like. In contrast to television or on-demand video streaming, live streaming doesn’t make users pay for a bunch of shows they may not watch even once. In fact, most live streaming services don’t force users to pay at all. We’ll discuss monetization strategies later on.

Market Perspectives for Live Streaming Apps

Live streaming is a promising niche with dozens of investors looking to finance promising projects.

Before the actual development, you have to understand a live streaming app market situation and what perspectives this niche brings to entrepreneurs. Because of the recent lockdown, live streaming apps became a rapidly evolving area that attracts a large number of new users. In the US only, the live streaming market size reached $24.1 billion in 2020.

Mobile apps are the most promising platforms for video streaming platforms. Almost one-third of all live streaming applications’ users watch broadcasts via smartphones and tablets. Smart TV is a less explored niche that also offers wide opportunities for live streaming app development.

The live streaming trend is strengthened by modern technologies. For example, blockchain-based streaming may reduce the delay and improve user experience. Artificial intelligence can improve image quality and optimize video streaming workflows.

As for the global statistics, eMarketer claims that 2.72 billion people will watch videos on their mobile devices in 2023. That’s a significant growth compared to 2.16 billion in 2019. The majority of live streaming applications’ users belong to generations Y and Z. For example, Twitch reports that nearly half of their audience ages from 18 to 34, and 21% ages from 13 to 17.

Obviously, with the rising demand for entertainment and leisure in the post-COVID world, video streaming apps popularity will only grow.

Live Video Streaming App Feature List: From MVP to Full-Fledged Product

Each live streaming app requires a standard set of features that may be expanded depending on the app owner’s business objectives.

Successful live streaming apps don’t live by concepts and statistics alone. To build software that attracts viewers, streamers, and generates revenue, you need a well-thought feature list. We’ve analyzed all major players in this niche and compiled an extensive list of functionalities that will help you take over your potential audience. Let’s break down each of these features.

1. Signup

Registration is required in order for streamers to create channels and viewers to follow their favorite broadcasters. However, some platforms don’t oblige users to create an account in order to join streams. For example, users can watch broadcasts incognito on Twitch, but they can’t chat with other viewers and interact with their streamer.

To show more user care, you need to come up with several signup options. At first, a basic email will be enough. However, in the future, you can add social signup and sign-in (via Facebook, Google, etc), registration via phone numbers, and other options. With social signup, users can skip the tedious form-filling process and join streams right away.

2. User Profile

Here, users provide some information about themselves. You don’t have to create a complete dossier on each user during registration. Their name and nickname will be more than enough. Later on, you can send them a reminder to fill in missing information, which may include:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Content preferences
  • Profile picture
  • Interests

Enhanced user information allows you to adjust the suggestion algorithm better and provide a personalized user experience.

3. Streaming

As one can imagine, streaming is a fundamental feature for live streaming apps. To build a successful platform, you have to understand the magic that lies behind live streaming. Streaming is a common technology that is used for music streaming app development, VOD platforms, and so on.

Each time users watch some video content on the Internet, streaming protocols deliver data from the video source to end-users. Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) is the most popular protocol for today. It ensures fast and flawless video delivery using dedicated video streaming servers.

However, there are dozens of other protocols that have their own benefits and drawbacks. RTMPS, HLS, DASH, and more. For example, Twitch uses HLS (HTTP Live Streaming protocol) and YouTube can use several protocols simultaneously.

4. User Gallery

User gallery is basically a library of VOD content that was previously broadcasted by each streamer. In plain words, it’s like a media library when you build a music streaming app. In case users miss live streams, they can visit profiles of their favorite streamers and watch broadcasts when they have free time. Twitch records all translations and saves them on the cloud. If streamers want a certain broadcast to be unique, they can turn a VOD feature off.

5. Donation System

To enhance communication between streamers and their audiences, platforms often use donations. Viewers can donate some money to broadcasters and send them a message. The message is then shown on the screen and is voiced to a streamer and all viewers. With a large number of viewers, it’s hard to answer each question from the chat, that’s why donations become a top communication channel between viewers and streamers. Besides, it’s also one of the main income sources for broadcasters, except for partnership programs with platforms.

There are several ways for building a donation system. The first one is to create a custom donation system. Mind that it should have a payment gateway, straightforward UI, word filters so streamers can prevent inadequate content from being shown on the screen, and other custom features. Another way is to implement a third-party solution. The donation market already has its own leaders. For example, time-tested Donation Alerts have been trusted by streamers since Twitch was launched. The service provides several payment methods, donation statistics, and customizable filters.

6. Stream Chat

Create streaming app chats to enhance viewers’ communication with each other and give feedback to broadcasters. Beginner streamers usually don’t have large audiences, that’s why they’re able to communicate with every person in the chat, answer their questions, and gather feedback.

Besides, a chat opens new engagement and monetization strategies for streamers. For example, Twitch allows broadcasters to upload their custom emojis to the platform. These emojis are available only to paid subscribers of a particular streamer. Besides, popular influencers often close their chat for non-subscribers in order to create more communication space for their real supporters that pay for subscriptions.

When building a chat you should let streamers assign moderators. Sometimes, viewers can spam in chats preventing other users from comfortable communication or even write offensive words and slogans. Moderators will monitor chats, issue alerts, or even ban users with bad manners.

The most common technology for building a real-time chat for today is Twilio. This SDK offers cross-platform capabilities, so you can develop a chat for your Android and iOS live streaming app versions simultaneously. Still, if you need live streaming Android app development abilities that lie beyond Twilio SDK, you can come up with your custom solution. For example, Socket.io is a great library for real-time communication that has broad customization possibilities.

7. Ranking System

If users are new to live streaming, and they don’t have their favorite influencers yet, you have to provide them with some entry-level information about streamers. Create video streaming app ranking systems to let other viewers share their opinion and rate each streamer’s content. Thus, users will have a more granular picture of a content type and quality.

8. Viewers Limit

Unfortunately, you may face some performance issues in the MVP product stage. If your platform will be overcrowded with viewers, the server load will cause delays on streams and deteriorate user experience. That’s why, if you aren’t too sure about the sustainability of your back-end processes, set a viewers limit to not overload the platform.

Obviously, it’s not the best option. However, to build a live streaming app on your own you have to predict the possible load on your platform and conduct required stress tests. With the rising interest in your platform, you can enhance the capacities of your platform and gradually remove the limit. Another way is contacting a live video streaming app development company. Experienced teams have enough resources and understanding to carry out required tests and deliver a turn-key product that can deal with intense loads.

9. Search

Make sure that you have a convenient search system that allows browsing through new streamers and quickly access ones that they already follow. Apart from a plain search field, you need specific filters. Your users may want to find new broadcasts and search by criteria like:

  • Broadcast language
  • Broadcast location
  • Broadcast topic
  • Game genre (for gaming platforms)
  • The number of viewers

To save users’ time, you can display popular streaming channels and categories on the home page. If users don’t search for something specific, they may be interested in watching trending content.

10. Data Security

Like any other platform, streaming apps should treat user data with utmost seriousness. If you don’t use payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, or else, it means that you’re storing credit card data on your behalf. Security vulnerabilities and unreliable code may lead to data leaks and compromise sensitive data. This may result in loss of trust from your user base, large fines, and even criminal liability.

To prevent data leaks, businesses comply with modern data security protocols such as CCPA and GDPR. Moreover, when storing credit card data on your servers, you have to follow PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Payment Security Standard) protocol. It obliges app owners to conduct yearly audits of their data security systems and follow strict guidelines. Still, we highly recommend minimizing the amount of sensitive data stored on your behalf. It’s better to use payment gateways to process payments and minimize contacts with credit card data.

11. Hosting Other Streamers

Fellowship is key to building a healthy streaming community around your platform. That’s why many platforms today allow broadcasters to host other users. This may help less popular streamers get a wider outreach, attract new followers, and test their broadcasting skills on a broad public. Besides, it may become another revenue channel for popular streamers. Some of them may charge money for an opportunity to get more viewers. That’s why this feature is definitely beneficial for both sides.

12. Screen Sharing

Screen sharing feature opens wide possibilities for entertaining and educational content. Without screen capture, such a popular video game streaming niche wouldn’t exist. Usually, streamers use third-party software like OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) to stream their screen contents. However, creating your own mechanism for screen capturing will avert the need for downloading additional software and contain features tailored to your streaming platform. Keep unique features in mind when planning on attracting new influencers to your platform.

13. Social Media Sharing

Since streamers are mostly public people, adding social media capabilities will help them keep in touch with their audience. A feature that makes a post on social media when streamers go live will notify viewers about an upcoming broadcast. Besides, the social sharing feature simplifies sharing favorite streamers between viewers.

14. Feed

The main page that is riddled with streamers, different content categories, VODs, and other stuff may increase user engagement. However, the recommended content should be precisely personalized based on the viewing history and interests of every user. Let users choose what they like and mark the content that isn’t interesting for them. That’s how you retain users when they get tired of their long-time favorite broadcasts.

That was an exhaustive list of features for all outstanding live-streaming apps. However, the major players on the market already have these features. That’s why you can’t rely on attracting users with only features. The main battle in the streaming niche revolves around streamers. Crowd favorites play a significant role in attracting users to any platform. In their turn, streamers pay attention to the terms of cooperation with platforms, the convenience of its interface, and overall performance. That’s why you have to think about usability and offer a better deal to your future content creators.

Live Streaming App Revenue Models

Live video streaming apps are real moneymakers in terms of monetization options.

As we’re finished with a feature list, it’s time to clarify how businesses generate revenue out of streaming platforms. Business models differ, that’s why we’ve covered all of them, so you can find the one that suits your app idea the most. There are three different monetization strategies:

  • Paid app
  • Subscription-based model
  • Advertisements

Let’s get an in-depth look into each of them.

1. Paid App

The monetization strategy of a paid app is as straightforward as it may look. To use the app, users should buy your app. Right after that, users get unlimited access to all functionalities of your app.

One of the main advantages of this model is that you can make live streaming app development efforts bring profits immediately. You don’t have to convince users to buy subscriptions or pay for additional features. Those prospects who are interested in your product will buy it, all the others will pass over. However, this strategy isn’t scalable at all. After a one-time purchase, you can’t turn users into a constant revenue stream. That’s why this revenue model is more appropriate for small live streaming apps that don’t offer a wide variety of features. Broadcast Me is just one of those apps.

2. Subscription-Based Model

Freemium or subscription-based model is the most common strategy for all popular live streaming apps. Users can access broadcasts and some platform features for free. However, users that purchase a subscription get more perks and can access new features. That’s a common model not only for video streaming apps but also for entrepreneurs who create a music streaming app. For example, Spotify uses the same model.

Let’s take a look at Twitch. Any person can create an account and follow their favorite streamers for free. However, paid subscribers get unique emojis, subscribers-only chat, unique events with the streamer, and simply support their beloved broadcaster. Streamers also engage viewers to subscribe by carrying out so-called “subdays”, where subscribers can vote for activities for the upcoming translation.

Besides, Twitch offers different subscription plans for users. The platform provides three subscription tiers with more unique features for users who purchase higher-priced plans.

3. Advertisements

Ads are a conventional revenue model for almost all modern app developers. You can integrate video ads before the start of the broadcast, place non-intrusive ad banners on your main page, or find more creative ways for integrating ads into your platform. Streamers also cooperate with brands and display ad pre-rolls, demonstrate banners right during the broadcast, and promote their partners in their streaming profiles.

Now that we’ve figured out how to make money in the live streaming industry, it’s high time to move to the live streaming app development lifecycle.

How to Establish a Video Streaming App Development Process?

Innovative idea and the right team is what live video streaming app development lifecycle depends on.

With a chaotic approach to organizational processes, the final product may appear laggy and unusable. Here is when our list of actions comes in handy.

1. Come Up With an Innovative Idea

A unique app idea will help you stand out among your competitors, attract investors, and gather an intrigued user base before an actual product launch. decide on the preferred type of content that streamers will distribute via your platform. It may be video gaming, educational content, IRL streams, or anything else.

With a clearly defined idea, it’ll be easier to conduct market research, identify your target audience, and conduct A/B testing.

2. Decide on a Revenue Model

Later on, you have to choose a revenue model according to your app idea. Analyze the potential of integrating ads into your platform. Create possible subscription plans, estimate approximate profits from the subscriptions, and decide whether it’s worth distributing the app under a freemium model, or maybe it’s better to sell it as a paid app.

3. Pick Your Team

Without an experienced development team, you can’t build a streaming app stuffed with useful features. In the perfect world, you’d gather an in-house engineering team. Having developers that were at the origin of your platform right in your office significantly simplifies the app maintenance and accelerates the release of updates.

However, today, in-house developers are too pricey and rarely accept job offers. That’s why offshoring your project is a great idea if you don’t have unlimited resources and want to start the development process ASAP. If you’re planning on native development, you should find a company that deals with both video streaming Android app development and iOS engineering. The only thing you need to do is to find the right company that will help you adjust a feature set for your project, supply you with an estimate, and keep in touch with you until the product launch.

4. Take Care of Video Quality and Bitrate

Your future development team should have a deep understanding of streaming protocols to ensure high-quality video stream even for users with low bandwidth. You can use CDN (Content Distribution Network) for such purposes. It ensures uninterrupted content delivery to each user.

5. Come Up With Clear and Attractive UX

Designers are just as valuable team members as software developers. UI/UX designers create a layout of your future app and prototype it so engineers have a basis to work with. During a wireframing stage, you can set out your expectations about an app design and positioning of particular elements on the screen. Designers’ main responsibility is to create an engaging user experience and at the same time make it as straightforward and concise as possible.

6. Create an MVP

MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is an initial version of your app with only the basic features. It allows you to test the idea, gather feedback from your audience, and decide what should be changed and added. It’s a good idea to create live streaming app MVP versions because it significantly shortens time-to-market and minimizes initial spendings. Leaving complicated features for later allows focusing on core functionalities and develop advanced features after the initial feedback. In the worst-case scenario, if an app doesn’t get any attention from your audience, MVP version minimizes potential losses.

Besides, if you’re aiming at both platforms, with MVP you can create a live streaming app for Android or iOS only, depending on the devices the majority of your target audience uses. Thus, you’ll save even more time without losing customer feedback.

7. Conduct Quality Assurance

Don’t leave free room for bugs and software vulnerabilities. The market is overcrowded with platforms that can steal your potential users while you’re fixing post-release software issues. Of course, it’s impossible to launch a product without shortcomings. However, proper quality assurance allows to keep them to a minimum.

As you can see, developing live-streaming apps requires thorough planning, management, and commitment. What about development time? Read on.

Live Streaming App Development: Approximate Time Estimate

Video streaming app development is a time-consuming process that requires full dedication from the engineering team.

Building live streaming apps is time-consuming and labor-intensive work. It requires time and dedication from business analysts, developers, project managers, designers, and other development team members.

According to our rough estimate, the time required to build an MVP version with basic streaming, VOD, and chatting functionalities hovers around 720 hours for a single platform. If you plan to create a video streaming app for each individual platform, the time may increase up to 1,500 hours with cross-platform development, you’ll spend around 900 hours on both platforms.

However, building a live streaming Android app and streaming iOS app on the same tech stack isn’t a great idea due to the peculiarities of using streaming protocols on both of these platforms that are overlooked by cross-platform tech stacks.

If you’re wondering how to build a live video streaming web application, we may say that this platform may also double the time you’ll spend on development. In some cases, when your platform is focused on PC users, it’s better to develop a web MVP version, rather than a live stream app for Android or iOS to test your idea. If users fall for your concept, it makes sense to develop mobile versions later.

As for the advanced features, it’s hard to identify the exact amount of hours you’ll need for extra features. Everything depends on their complexity, design, and how much time the QA department will need for testing. We can say that you’ll need up to 3,000 hours and even video streaming mobile app development time to add all advanced features.

Still, this estimate is approximate and the time varies depending on your requirements, budget, and features. The only way to know the exact amount of development time is to contact the software development company and request a detailed estimate.

Create a New Rockstar Streaming Platform with Us

Live streaming apps are booming like video hostings once were. Today, this type of platform has become one of the most popular ways of entertainment and generates enormous profit. New faces appear among streamers, meaning that users will always find new types of content and narratives to enjoy.

We are willing to share our expertise in live streaming app development and turn your idea into life. Previously, we’ve worked on Experience Jesus, a video streaming platform for people of faith. We designed an app for Android, iOS, and Smart TV platforms providing users with top-notch content and features like personalized recommendations, content segmentation, and a browser of religious content. Experience Jesus was built with React Native with the utilization of the most efficient streaming protocols.

Currently, we’re working on Sticks, a streaming platform for gamers and video-game enthusiasts. The platform is going to be a Twitch alternative with a more user-oriented approach. It offers more social features that allow broadcasters to keep in touch with their community, make posts, and even organize competitive matches and ranked leagues.

If you’re planning on building your own live streaming app, don’t hesitate to contact us. We, at OpenGeeksLab, will pick a perfect streaming algorithm and development stack for your platform. We use every last drop of streaming protocols’ and CDNs’ productivity to deliver quality content with no delays and lags.

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