How to Create Your Own OTT App?
The raging market of OTT platforms has indeed made it an attractive choice to build our own OTT apps. OTT platforms are a prime example of a budding new-age industry. In all honesty, the popularity of OTT platforms is not at all overrated. OTT service is easily accessible by the mass, adaptable to modern lifestyles and comparatively easy to provide by companies. Let me break down what I just said in the previous sentence. OTT service provides consumers with media content through the internet. Previously when we only had TVs (or theatres!) to watch movies, it was not possible to watch a movie on our way back home from work. Since OTT service is entirely based on the internet, it can completely bypass traditional broadcast technologies like cable TV or D2H. Meanwhile, since the internet is abundant and a lot of us have smartphones, we can watch whatever we want, whenever we want, from wherever we want. This is precisely what I meant when I said OTT service is accessible and flexible.
During the pandemic, most of us were not at all “on-the-go” so now our TVs are no more only connected by cable or D2H, they are sophisticated, web-connected devices dubbed Smart TVs. So when you plan on creating an OTT app, you are going to have to consider building apps for phones, tablets, computers, as well as Smart TVs.
The OTT industry is a brimming, growing, vibrant industry with a vast opportunity for new businesses to come to life. The first step in joining the industry is to create your own OTT app.
However, this would require a bit of planning and consideration on your part. I am going to discuss what are the things you need to do to create and successfully launch your own OTT app into the market.
Identify your niche
First, you need to think about what OTT service are you going to provide. OTT services can include various kinds of media. It is an integral part of the mainstream culture so undoubtedly there has to be a humongous variety of media provided by OTT platforms to cater to the mass equally. The most popular OTT platform services include Video-on-Demand (VOD) which could be videos of anything, from movies to TV shows, music videos, infotainment, documentaries and so on. The point of VODs is that they are files already included in your database and your consumers can access them ‘on-demand’. The next most popular OTT service is live-stream videos. People can watch live events like game matches or award shows by live-streaming them from OTT apps. OTT apps are also available for gaming, podcasts, news and so much more.
To develop an app that provides all the OTT services under the sun is a bit daunting. Most OTT service providers choose VOD as their primary service. There are several platforms where users can live stream videos while yet other platforms provide users with other features like podcast streaming, gaming, music streaming and more. To build a platform, and therefore an app, that has all these features is complex and naturally requires larger investments. It is better to choose a niche, a kind of service that you are looking forward to providing to your users.
It is also important to consider your target user base while choosing your niche. Having a clear idea about your target audience immensely helps in designing your OTT app to maximise user engagement. Specific target audience often calls for the incorporation of features that would cater to their needs. For example, if your platform provides content that is meant for children, it is useful to add features like explicit content identification and child-lock in your OTT apps.
Decide your content inventory
The content of an OTT platform forms its identity of it. It is safe to say that the content you provide on our OTT apps forms the very foundation of your OTT platform. Your content can be live-streamed videos as well as VOD. You can also opt to convert live-streamed videos into VOD which can be accessed at later dates by your users. In terms of VOD, you can choose specific kinds of content for your content inventory. There can be movies, TV shows, documentaries, reality shows, documentaries and so on.
The content inventory of an OTT platform is often the primary unique selling point of the platform. You can cater curated videos for your viewers, which you draw great audience traffic based on the quality of your curation. OTTs platforms also often produce original content that cannot be found on other OTT platforms. This is called premium VOD service. Once again, the quality of your original content can help you draw a large number of viewers to your platform.
The size and management of your content inventory are important factors that must be considered carefully during the development of your OTT apps. Features like search engine recommendations, creating playlists, voting for favourite videos, etc can be built into your OTT app for an enhanced user experience.
Choose a business model
Video monetization is one of the key priorities for businesses developing their own OTT platforms. It is the key source of revenue for you. Several business models can be opted for by an OTT platform based on their target audience and business goals. It is crucial to decide on a business model before beginning the actual app development process. Here I will briefly describe how different business models for OTT platforms work and how it affects the OTT app development process.
You can monetize your OTT app in multiple ways:
- SVOD - SVOD stands for Subscription Video-on-Demand. In this model, you get your viewers to subscribe to your VOD services to get access to the videos in your content database. You can choose to have monthly or yearly subscription plans based on your business goals. You can also introduce paywalls where customers can opt for different subscription plans to get access to different amounts of videos in varying resolutions based on their subscription plans. You can also offer premium content on your platform that is exclusive and requires a subscription from viewers to access.
- TVOD - You can offer transactional VOD or TVOD services on your OTT platform. In this model, customers pay you a one-time payment to purchase a video to which they will always have access.
- AVOD - AVOD or advertisement-based VOD model involves the addition of in-app advertisements into your video content. You can receive revenue from advertisements hosted through your app, making it possible for you to offer your viewers to stream videos without a subscription fee.
- Hybrid - A hybrid format that combines SVOD, TVOD, and AVOD is also an option. You can provide premium videos that need a subscription plan to be accessed by viewers, videos that can be purchased with a one-time payment, as well as some free content that can be streamed without any active subscription plans. In terms of marketing, the hybrid format is a good middle ground where your audience can see a portion of your free material but must purchase a membership to access the remaining streaming services. 60% of OTT providers assert that the hybrid business model works best for them and aids in boosting subscription numbers.
(Source: Survey conducted by various agencies)
To support the different forms of access to the content database, your OTT app must be developed accordingly. A sound payment gateway must also be developed for your OTT apps. It is therefore necessary that you have a clear idea of the video monetization plan you would like to opt for your OTT apps.
Make a website
At this point, the pre-requisite planning tasks involved with creating your OTT apps are fairly covered and it is time to move on to the first step of launching your individual OTT platform, creating a website for the platform. Creating a website might sound like a detour while discussing how to build OTT apps, but a website is always the first step in starting your own OTT platform.
Firstly, a website gives your OTT platform and name and a digital presence on the internet. Your users can visit your website to gather information about your platform which allows you increased credibility among your users. You can also provide customer support through your website which would help you stay in touch with your users reliably. The operation of payment gateways through websites is easier and safer through websites.
Additionally, having a website helps the marketing of your OTT platform several folds. A good website is going to help you rank well on search engine pages when users search for specific content. This in turn would increase viewer traffic into your OTT platform.
You can also have a web app for your OTT platform for users to stream your videos directly from their browsers. Surveys suggest that as high as 39% of users regularly stream OTT content from their web browsers.
Select your Tech Stack
The selection of the tech stack is arguably the most important part of developing apps for your OTT apps. Here you need to make decisions involving what back-end or front-end frameworks and cloud services you would have your apps be built on. All the choices and considerations you have made previously, as discussed in the above segments, would actively influence the choice of your tech stack. It is important to choose your tech stack wisely to optimise the cost of developing your OTT apps. You must choose technology that is suitable for the specific needs of your apps. It is advisable to consult expert OTT app developers regarding the tech stack for your OTT apps.
Popular devices for streaming OTT content in 2022
You can opt for several third-party APIs to build the MVP version of your OTT apps. While they allow room for little customisations, they significantly speed the process of your OTT app development and help cut costs. Third-party APIs are mostly available over a varying range of fees and you can choose packages based on your needs. AWS, Socket.io and Web RTC are some third-party APIs you can choose from. You can also refer to GitHub or Jenkins for DevOps tools.
As OTT platforms or OTT apps need a considerable amount of content inventory, you would invariably have to choose cloud or database services like Oracle, MongoDB, MySQL, Amazon EC2, and Cassandra.
Partner up with an OTT app development company
We are now at the final step of creating an OTT app, that is, the actual development of the app. You would need to start from the ground up to construct an OTT app that is entirely customised to draw in your target user base and work optimally with your business model. You have the option to develop your app internally. To carry out the project in this manner, you would need to hire a group of developers, designers, and overhead management. This gives you the most control over the creation of your app, but it is not the fastest or most economical approach to creating a tailored OTT app for your platform.
Hiring an OTT app development company is a lot easier and more effective option to get your OTT app developed. Such businesses are likely to have more project management expertise in addition to having expert teams of developers and designers. As they employ a flawless optimisation of time and resources for your project and deliver your software on schedule, this would enable you to optimally use your investment.
Your OTT app development project will probably be managed more effectively by an OTT app development agency. For example, if you team up with 4 Way Technologies, you could save money in the long run because of our effective project management techniques. Additionally, working with an OTT app development company will guarantee that maintaining your OTT apps is simple. Businesses employing in-house automated testing technologies, like 4 Way Technologies, can also quickly and easily fix errors with less testing debt, ensuring a better experience for you.
To wrap things up, building your individual OTT platform could be a daunting step but is extremely rewarding given the sky-rocketing OTT market. The process of creating your own OTT app involves some serious planning on your part involving the choice of your niche, inventory, as well as a business model. Upon making these decisions, you can committedly hop on to the development process of your OTT application by partnering with an OTT app development company. Consult with experienced developers to start a website for your OTT platform, make choices for the tech stack that works best for your OTT apps create your very own OTT app with the help of your OTT app development partner.
Sam took the long path into the world of IT. A post-grad in Bioinformatics, she started coding to build better programs for protein sequencing. Currently, Sam actively writes blogs for 4 Way Technologies. She's always excited about all the new technologies and updates in software development. Sam also writes coding tutorials and beginners guides for, well, beginners.