How to Make a Live Streaming Platform [Case Study]

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Max Litvinov

Sep 23, 2021 | 19 min read

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Live streaming has been with us for close to three decades. However, it is not until the last couple of years that the sector has seen tremendous growth.

With widespread internet usage and mainly due to the pandemic, millions of brands are leveraging this next-gen technology to promote consumer engagement and boost outreach. As a result, the industry has witnessed widespread popularity growing by 99% between April 2019 and April 2020.

Furthermore, the live streaming industry is expected to reach $70 billion by 2021. As such, it is only natural for brands to want a piece of the lucrative business; and one of the ways to do that is through developing a live-streaming platform

However, building an application that will help you ‘go live,’ as it’s popularly known, isn’t a walk in the park.

Live streaming app development needs rigorous planning. Brands need to make critical decisions that include determining the ideal platform and the best software development company for the task. Appvales is one such software development company with a pool of talented live-streaming app programmers. The company boasts an excellent track record building MVPs for startups as well as enterprise software.

In this article, we will guide you through creating a live streaming web application using Picarto.tv as a case study.

How We Built Picarto.tv – A Live Streaming Platform for Artists

Picarto.tv is a popular live streaming platform for unique artists with millions of monthly traffic. The platform was outsourced and developed by Appvales founders.

Core features

Let us look at the core features that will help you better understand how to make a live streaming platform.

Categories

Users can find live streams per category for easier search, from creative to fury, drawing, Illustration, Comic, Cartoon, Gaming, and more. They can also sort them as they wish.

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Streaming screen

Users get the option to watch streams online while they chat with other players and artists. 

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Watch multiple streams

Users can watch multiple (up to 4) streams simultaneously.

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Subscribe and follow artists

Users get the option to subscribe and follow their favorite artists and get notifications on their streams and updates first.

Tech stack we used

We considered the platform and compared the third-party integrations to power the streaming app together and used the following technologies:

  • Programming languages: JavaScript, PHP
  • Frameworks: Node.js, React
  • Databases: MySQL
  • Cloud platforms: Amazon EC2, Amazon S3.
  • CDN services: Amazon CloudFront
  • Streaming protocols: RTMP, Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming
  • Media formats: MKV, MP4

Twitch Business Model

Twitch.tv is an online video streaming platform that allows users to watch or broadcast live or pre-recorded content. Twitch began as Justin. tv, a modest site for live video broadcasting, in 2011. Justin Kahn, the platform’s founder, received $8 million in venture capital for platform development that same year. 

Justin.tv was renamed Twitch Interactive in February 2014, and Amazon purchased the service for $970 million in August of the same year. Twitch now has about 15 million daily active users, over 9.3 billion hours of video watched, and over 27,000 partner channels.

Before you answer the question: “how do I create my own live streaming website?” let us consider Twitch’s business model and how they make money.

Advertising

Over time, many businesses developed interests in video websites, thus attracting an even bigger gaming audience. Now they use Twitch as a promotional tool for their services and products.

Advertising on Twitch operates similarly to YouTube: first, the video begins with a brief commercial; then, ads show multiple times during the streaming and viewing.

Twitch charges gaming firms, websites, and developers a cost per mile (CPM) fee to run adverts. The CPM costs anywhere from $2 to $10.

Subscription

Twitch users subscribe to channels at monthly rates of $4.99, $9.99, and $24.99. In addition, they may see videos without advertisements and enjoy premium Twitch features with paid subscriptions. 

Other available Twitch subscription features include Expanded Emoticon Set, Custom Chat Username Colors, Priority Customer Support, and more.

These features are acceptable to users because, by August 2021, the average number of concurrent Twitch streamers was 2.9 million.

Although Twitch Prime goes for $12.99 per month, Twitch’s parent business – Amazon – linked it with their retail website in September 2016, allowing Amazon Prime members to get Twitch Prime free.

Twitch Turbo is the streaming website’s second subscription option. By reducing commercials, boosting video storage, and providing exclusive chat emoticons and colors, the $8.99/month membership improves the game viewing experience.

In-App Purchases, Called “Bits”

Viewers can send live shout-outs to their favorite streamers with an in-app currency called “Bits,” in addition to cheering them on from Twitch Chat. Viewers can purchase Bits for as little as $1.40 for 100, which is equivalent to 1.4 cents per Bit.

These “Cheering Bits” are animated chat emotes, and for 1.4 cents, you can type “Cheer1” into Twitch Chat, giving an animated grey triangle. “Cheer100” makes a $1.40 dancing purple diamond. Users can cheer for any amount up to “Cheer10000” ($140), and emotes that correlate get bigger and more attractive.

Twitch receives around 70% of each Bit, with one cent going to the streamer.

Partners

Twitch users often pay for premium memberships to some channels to support their favorite streamers. In this case, Twitch and the channel owner share the membership fee equally.

Sales of clothing

This concept demands a platform to collaborate with cloth manufacturers and sell products to platform users. Twitch, for example, has a T-shirt firm as a partner. As a result, the most popular gamers make their T-shirt designs, promote them during live streams, and get a cut from the money.

MVP Features of Live Streaming Platform

After months of meticulous research, individual peculiarities have been put together to make a live streaming network like Twitch successful. When it comes to the UI/UX component of how to make a live streaming website like Twitch, you’ll need these essential features.

User registration 

This is where potential users register on the platform. When building a live streaming platform like Twitch, you should include other social login options so that visitors may register and log in to your website using their social media profiles, like Facebook. 

In addition, by connecting your streaming website to other social media platforms, you allow users to share live stream links with their contacts on social media, which attracts even more people.

User profile

Here, users can add personal information, preferences, and social media links. It also contains their interests, watching history, subscribed channels, membership details, and more.

Live chat

Live Chat is one of the fascinating features of a live-streaming network like Twitch. When considering how to create a streaming website, you want viewers from all around the world interacting with themselves and the broadcasters. This would give the impression of a real-life experience online.

Security

If you intend to stream mostly paid content live on your live streaming platform, you will need to pay special attention to the platform’s security.

Also, your platform will require a secure payment gateway. IP-based access control, DRM, and AES encryption are the most common security mechanisms that work effectively with live streaming services.

Live video streaming

For 67% of viewers who utilize live video streaming services, the quality of the streaming video is the most crucial element. Therefore, you’ll need to use RTMP (real-time media protocol) for low latency connections to give users high-quality video streaming. To do this, RTMP divides the entire stream into smaller chunks for transmission between the server and the client.

Additional features

Other things to consider during the second development phase of your live streaming app are listed below:

Content that is tailored to the individual

Allow visitors to choose the most relevant content in the Discover section if the streaming website has various video categories. This way, they can watch new videos from their selected categories.

Analytics

You must track user interaction, peak traffic, and viewership to make your platform effective. It would be a lot better if your analytics could compare traffic for various video events. This will help you know which streaming categories work well so you can provide a better customer experience.

Auto-categorization of videos

It’s nearly impossible to catalog streaming data in real-time manually. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning come in handy in this situation. You can employ AI and Machine Learning to automatically assess video material and prevent copyright infringement on your site.

Live streaming can be scheduled

Since people from various nations and time zones may visit your streaming website, you should include a feature that allows you to plan live streaming. For example, allow streamers to schedule the next session and notify their followers via Push Notifications about the new stream.

Monetization

You can charge users for subscriptions, premium content access, or donations using a built-in payment mechanism.

Your payment processor should receive Credit and debit cards, PayPal, and other payment methods, such as Apple Pay. Twitch, however, uses the Xsolla payment mechanism.

Our Approach to Building Web Platforms

1. Product discovery

We do our best to ensure it’s worth building by performing discovery workshops, user research, and design sprints when you have an idea.

  1. User and market research

Although you might already have a high-level idea of your users and what market segment you serve, we can offer more. By diving deeper and talking to potential customers, we gain invaluable insights into how they perceive your product. With this, we see hidden challenges and gains and get one step closer to product-market fit.

  1. Product road mapping

Of course, there is no successful product launch and development without a clear plan and strategy. That is why we help you create a roadmap of your product from concept to MVP and full-featured product. And indeed, such a roadmap is compatible with the Agile approach to building things.

  1. Design sprint and prototyping

Design Sprint is a 7-day process; then, you receive a clickable prototype of your product. This helps you validate your idea and helps us save on development costs. The prototype can be presented to your users, investors, and other stakeholders for feedback.

2. UI/UX Design

We establish UX strategies to validate and build solutions that anticipate user demands using a hands-on approach to design thinking.

  1. UX research

The users’ first impression of your app begins with the first click. Considering this, our experts will create a user experience full of subtle details and motions that will make your users love your app. This covers extensive user research as well as basic app functionality.

  1. Prototyping and wireframing

Typically, you can’t say whether an app’s experience is good before it’s developed. So, we make clickable prototypes and wireframes. This allows you to have a clear picture of how the app will look and feel.

  1. Brand Identity

Brand identity is what immediately goes through the mind of people when they think of your app. But it’s a lot more than just a logo. So, we invest in emotions and psychology to provide your unique brand’s identity – one that will be renowned and remembered.

  1. UI design

After the perfect user experience is designed, we can add a beautiful look to the functionality. Interface design will reflect your brand’s unique style and touch to stay in the app’s users’ minds and help them navigate intuitively.

3. Software development

We deliver remarkable code quality and a well-planned architecture as a top-rated software development firm, allowing for easy scaling of your product. We rank features and scope to approach each goal one at a time.

  1. Mobile and web app development

To manage operations and connect with clients and workers, almost every business today needs a web or mobile app. We assist companies in transforming their services into enjoyable and engaging digital experiences. We can develop a solution for any size business, from SMB to enterprise.

  1. Quality assurance

To provide your users with a bug-free and seamless experience, we employ the finest automated and manual testing techniques. Furthermore, we trust that each product development should be accompanied by quality assurance.

  1.  Security and regulations check

We conduct security and regulation checks to ensure the app is functioning just as it should. Considering the amounts of sensitive data stored in these applications, we invest strongly in security to prevent data loss, malfunction, and a damaged reputation.

  1. MVP development

To attract the initial users to your startup, you’ll need a working prototype of your product. Our team will assist you in prioritizing and delivering basic features that will interest your users. 

We begin with business analysis to determine your product’s core and business model, then proceed to UI design, build everything out, and launch, relieving you of the burden.

  1. Formal Maintenance and Support Agreement

We offer support agreements, support case documentation, and maintenance request register. In addition, we fix software bugs, and the installation of new versions of the maintained software.

Minimal Team Setup Needed

These are the teams whose services we employ to get the job done:

  • Project Manager

Project Managers organize the whole team and ensure that the product meets the agreed-upon date and complies with all the client’s specifications. Like a business analyst, a thorough project management method dramatically influences the cost of mobile application development.

  • Front-end developer

A front-end development team usually designs and develops websites, apps, or native applications running from web technologies. In addition, they know how to code a live streaming platform. They are responsible for writing the codes to build client-side applications.

  •  Back-end developer

A back-end development team builds and sustains the technology required to control the components that allow the website’s user-facing side to function. The back-end code they provide enhances the effectiveness of the creations from the front-end developers.

The team is responsible for creating, maintaining, testing, and debugging the whole back end, including the core application logic, databases, data and application integration, API, and other back-end processes.

  • Business Analyst

The business analysis is a crucial step to recognize tech and business requirements before proceeding with development costs, and a business analyst is responsible for this. Our team of business analysts:

  • Assemble the requirements
  • Identify tech and business challenges
  • Analyze the competition
  • Define the value of the project
  • Document the specification of a project

These are essential steps in the planning and costing phase. So, the work of Business Analysts could significantly influence the cost of developing a live video streaming website.

  • DevOps engineer

The platforms you want to release the app will determine how many iOS or Android developers (or both) you need. Their fundamental goal is to build and deploy the application while carefully considering all the tech and business particularities described in the specification.

  •  Quality assurance team

The quality assurance engineers ascertain the app’s quality by executing regression, load, smoke, and various tests. They also test the UI and other app components to ensure they align with the client’s specifications. To this end, the team of QA engineers runs manual and automated testing.

Let’s Build Your Live Streaming Platform

Live-streaming sites like Twitch are on the way to becoming one of the most extensive social networks where various persons with the same interests come together and grow communities.

Currently, live-streaming can be used not just for gaming but also in nearly every industry, including education, online retail, and more.

However, to build a live streaming website, you will need a well-planned business vision, advanced technologies, high-quality video transmission, and a dynamic software development company. Appvales is the right team for you. We have the expertise, experience, and sincere desire to work with you on your next project. Contact us today to get a quote and let us bring your big idea to reality.

Boutique App Development Company

Appvales is a mobile development partner that helps you design, build, test and deploy apps. We can handle end-to-end product development or collaborate with your product team with dedicated mobile developers.

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Written by:

Max Litvinov

CEO at Appvales

IT enthusiast, investor, entrepreneur. Bringing the offshore mobile development to the next level.

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