In the age of digital media, launching a streaming service can be a great business move for some companies. With projected revenues of $95.35 billion in 2023, we can see that although the pandemic days are over, the industry is still doing well, and the popularity of streaming services continues to grow.  

We’re all familiar with the success stories of the streaming industry. Platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are already pop culture phenomenon’s and still continue to grow and expand their portfolios. Or platforms like Twitch, whose innovative idea proved such a hit that it was acquired by Amazon for an impressive $970 million in 2014. 

The competition in this sector is strong, but fortunately, you don’t have to try to overtake the biggest brands to reach an interested audience with your own service. 

Virtually any company can benefit in some way from creating an on-demand video platform, and there are many use cases to prove it. All it takes is a good idea and a basic knowledge of how to create a streaming service. In this article, we will shed some light on all the basics you need to know when deciding between a custom streaming service platform and an off-the-shelf solution. 

Find a streaming niche and become its leader 

Video is constantly gaining popularity in business. Streaming is being used for various product presentations, demonstrations and tutorials. Major technology manufacturers and companies such as Google are benefiting from it. Large news broadcast organisations or top sports leagues and associations use live streaming to show programs and matches to their audiences and fans worldwide.  

Many industries discovered the potential of using video streaming services for business during the lockdown. That’s when many companies and professionals became aware of the helpfulness of such platforms. From music, fitness, education and tutoring to entire cultural institutions and organising events or conferences, in all of these branches, streaming services have helped professionals continue to operate and make a living during the lockdown.  

It’s important to note that in many cases, such solutions have been so well accepted that they have been maintained permanently. For example, London’s National Theatre has kept the option of streaming performances online, which has opened its offer to new audiences, including those from outside the country. This demonstrates that professionals and experts of all kinds can use the technology to share their knowledge for free or to monetise it. 

Custom-made streaming service 

Creating bespoke video platforms tends to be more expensive and time-consuming. Nevertheless, it allows companies to more precisely design a video platform to meet their individual requirements. A custom streaming service can have more distinctive features because everything is created from scratch with enough flexibility and simplicity to make changes.  

Our experience shows that these types of projects are most often created for broadcasters and telecom operators. These are usually large companies focusing solely on delivering the best video experience to their viewers by creating a platform that sets them apart from their competitors’ offerings.  

It’s worth remembering that building a video streaming service from scratch carries a lot of risk. These products are associated with much higher investment costs, and it can be costly if they fail. 

When undertaking such an investment, it is essential to find the right partner to deliver the project. From the very beginning of a collaboration, experienced software providers will help and advise you to choose the right option. What’s more, they will know how to test a custom idea in a less invasive and risky way, e.g., by first trying the concept using a ready-made solution. 

Benefits of creating a custom streaming service 

Here are some of the most important benefits of creating a bespoke video platform for your business: 

  • Autonomy: You can set your own rules and operate without any third-party constraints and regulations.  
  • Monetisation control: You make the decision regarding monetisation, deploying paywalls or gating materials. 
  • Global Payment Accessibility: You choose the payment processor and decide how to handle payments. 
  • Direct communication with audience: You can directly communicate with your audience to make them more engaged.  
  • Technology Ownership: You make all the decisions regarding the technology, code base, and algorithms. You are the owner of the platform, so if you want, you can even share it with others and generate profits from it. 
  • Customisation: You choose the features for the development roadmap and determine how you want to stand out from the competition. 
  • Profitability: You can avoid third-party hosting fees and monetise your streaming service directly. 

Ready-made streaming platforms 

While creating a custom software platform has many advantages, it’s not always the ideal choice. If you are a content creator with a limited budget, it would probably be best to start by trying some of the existing services and tools. Chances are that such a solution will suit you just fine. 

Off-the-shelf streaming services are typically more appropriate for companies whose core offering does not depend on video but rather is an add-on. A great example of this might be a fitness centre that provides remote customers with instructional videos in addition to on-site fitness courses. 

Businesses that require only the most basic features – need to upload, display and sell their video content quickly and easily at the lowest cost – and don’t necessarily have the resources for ongoing development and maintenance can benefit most from a ready-made solution. Additionally, using such a solution can also be a relatively inexpensive way to test the viability of the entire business model. 

Of course, off-the-shelf solutions may prove to be imperfect in some way and may not have all the customisation options and flexible functionalities. Nevertheless, they can often be a simple and solid start, especially for smaller creators. 

Perks of using a ready-made streaming service platform 

Here are the main advantages of using an off-the-shelf video streaming service platform: 

  • Quick and easy start: You can swiftly register on the platform and begin uploading, posting, and monetising content. 
  • Lower upfront costs: Your initial expenditure is lower than in the case of a tailored platform. 
  • Non-binding testing: Rather than building the whole platform from scratch, you can test your idea without heavy investments. 

Selecting the right streaming service solution 

When looking for a technology partner and comparing different development options, it is crucial to check how well-versed a given firm is in developing, constructing and managing platforms, as well as how much the overall project might cost. 

Of course, the cost of building a bespoke streaming service can vary from one software development company to another. The price of such solutions usually depends on the offer of each provider, the size and complexity of the endeavour, the applied technologies and the requirements of the project.  

Being aware of your own business needs and the characteristics of the entire project is essential for making a well-informed decision. It is worth remembering that developing your technology or platform from scratch is never a cheap undertaking. Therefore, if you do not have significant customisation needs for your solution, it is worth considering the deployment of a ready-to-use streaming service – at least to begin with. It’s a cheaper and less risky way to see if your business and offering will catch on in the market.  

What’s more, once you’ve grown your business, there’s nothing stopping you from investing in transitioning to your own customised streaming platform, which will give you more flexibility and control over the features that best suit your audience. 

Over to you 

If you’re looking for a technology partner with experience in building custom video platforms, you’ve come to the right place. Our media and entertainment team specialises in developing mobile apps as well as web and backend solutions for broadcasters, content owners, telecoms, and media companies. If you are interested in these areas, feel free to contact us.

About the author

Magdalena Jędrzejowska

Magdalena Jedrzejowska

Business Researcher