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How to Create Live Streaming App in 2021: Types, Tech Stack, Must-have Features, Cost

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Considering that the live streaming market is predicted to hit $70 billion in 2021, it is only natural that you’ll want a piece of the lucrative industry. However, building a live streaming app isn’t easy, and it requires meticulous planning.

Many decisions need to be made along the way, including deciding which platform is most viable for streaming content. 

In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of creating a live streaming app. But first, let’s explore what live streaming app means in general.

What Is a Live Streaming App?

As the name implies, live-streaming apps are apps that allow users to record and broadcast video simultaneously. Such apps have grown in numbers in recent years, thanks to high-speed internet and advanced camera technologies. 

These apps have fueled influencer marketing, entertainment, business marketing, and the way people interact over the internet. Here are some live streaming apps that are highly popular amongst users:

  • Facebook Live
  • Twitch
  • Periscope
  • Kuaishou
  • Douyu
  • Bilibili
  • 17

Facebook Live is no stranger among social media users, while Twitch is a well-known platform for gamers to broadcast their gaming sessions. Meanwhile, Douyu is the Chinese alternative version of Twitch, which boasts a higher number of active users.

Interesting Live Streaming Statistics


3 Types of Live Streaming Apps 

Before you start building a live streaming app, you’ll need to know which types it belongs to. Here are 3 common types of live-streaming apps.

Live Broadcasting Apps

Live broadcasting apps are arguably the most popular type of live-streaming apps. The app allows users to broadcast live recordings of videos and sound to others who have access to the stream. These apps have given birth to scores of internet influencers and celebrities.

Popular live broadcasting apps are Twitch, YouTube Live, Livestream, and Periscope.

Audio Streaming

Take video out of the picture, and you’ll have an audio streaming app. With an audio streaming app, you get to listen to audio that is transmitted over the internet in real-time. 

Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music belong to this category.

Video on Demand Streaming

This type of live streaming app allows users to schedule and watch their favorite TV shows online as and when they wish.

Common VoD apps are Hulu, YouTube TV, and Amazon Prime Video.


How To Build Live Streaming MVP

In this article, we will focus on the process of building live broadcasting apps. 

Define Your Audience And Their Needs

You don’t want to create a live streaming app that is based on assumptions. Instead, you’ll want to learn the actual needs and opinions of users who will be using the app. Plan and hold interviews with the users to identify challenges early on. 

The early feedback will set you on the right path when building the live app. Besides, you may already secure your first group of beta users. 

Choose Monetization Strategies

Ultimately, you’ll want to monetize the live streaming app, and here are 3 popular ways to do so.

  • Paid app — charge the users a fee for downloading the app.
  • Premium — offer the app for free, but with some features accessible to paying users.
  • Advertisements — run ads on the app to generate advertising fees.

Use a Reliable Platform for Live Streaming, Hosting and Storage

You’ll then need to decide which platform is most viable for streaming, hosting, and storing the content. Choosing the cheapest provider is rarely a wise choice.

You could escape with sacrificing quality for cost in the beginning, but the inferior performance becomes obvious when users and traffic grows. Users have no tolerance for laggy streams or low-resolution videos, which will demise the app. 

Create Great UI/UX Design

Besides determining a viable platform for streaming the content, you'll need to create great UI/UX for the app. 

Technology is only a part of the equation of a winning live-streaming app. In a highly competitive industry, you need to stand out with great user experience. Thus, you’ll need to invest in getting the UI/UX design right for the app. 

A minimalist approach often works better than a cluttered interface. 

Build and Test your MVP

You could have dozens of ideas that you’ll want in the app, but the best way to test it out is to build an MVP. An MVP is a lightweight version of the app that only contains the essential features needed to function. It’s simple and allows you to get feedback from users with ease.

Tech stack of a Live Streaming App

Like other mobile apps, you’ll still need to decide on programming languages, databases, messaging queues, and other development elements. However, 3 areas deserve your attention. 

1. Streaming protocol

There are two common protocols to stream video, namely:

  • RTMP protocol
  • WebRTC Protocol.

RTMP

RTMP protocol is used for high-definition streaming. Live streams at concerts and conferences are broadcasted via RTMP. The top advantage of using RTMP is that you’re able to transmit high-quality audio/video. 

However, this comes at the cost of longer processing time where there’s a delay of 10-20 seconds between the screen capture and the viewer’s screen. 

WebRTC

WebRTC is a popular protocol that focuses on real-time communication. You’ll find it on video-call platforms like Google Hangouts, Zoom, and BeLive. While WebRTC is superior in terms of speed, it will negate the transmission quality if the bandwidth is inadequate. 

2.Streaming Platform

We’ve mentioned that it’s important to decide on a platform that’s viable for content-streaming. In this case, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an ideal solution. It provides the necessary tools to manage streams, host the application, and deliver content to the users.

3.Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Choosing the right CDN ensures the availability and performance of the live stream for the users. AWS CloudFront is an option that’s powering various streaming services, such as Netflix AWS MediaLive.

You can also use Amazon Chime for real-time WebRTC video rooms. Agora.io is an ideal solution for interactive real-time streams, particularly if AWS does not deliver the required speed. 

Nothing is set in stone when it comes to choosing tech-stack for live streaming apps. What’s more important is to define the problems that you intend to solve and adjust the stack accordingly. 

Must-have Features of live streaming MVP

To build an MVP for a live streaming app, you'll need these basic features:

  • User sign up/sign in - A simple registration form for the users to create an account and log in to the app with the credential. 
  • Live streaming - Allows the user to record and broadcast a live stream to members who have subscribed to his/her channel or the public.
  • Search - A search box that lets users search content by topic, popularity, trending, channel, location, or interests. 
  • User profile - Show the user's personal info and profile picture to friends and subscribers.
  • User gallery - Store and organize recorded videos on the user's profile. 
  • Commenting/Rating system - Live streaming apps thrive on social engagement. Therefore, it's important to include a commenting/rating system to allow users to leave feedback on the video. 

Nice-to-have features for live streaming app

Once you have an MVP that’s accepted by the users, you can consider adding these features to improve user experience. 

  • Social sign up - Allows users to sign up with their social media accounts in a single touch and skips the tedious form-filling.
  • Extended user profile - Go beyond the basic name and profile picture by adding in advanced fields like interest, preferences, location, and personalizations. 
  • Extended streaming features - You can consider adding in features like filters or screen sharing, which unlocks more innovative ways of using the app.
  • Chats - Adding a chat function helps the streamer to communicate with the audience in real-time. 
  • Extended search features - Increase the available parameter for search. For example, users can search for videos within a limited radius from his/her location.
  • Feed - Include a more interactive feed, where users have more control in personalizing on the types of content delivered.
  • Subscriptions - Introduce various types of subscriptions and allow users to manage them easily from the app.
  • Recommendations - Show related content to the users based on their preferences and viewing history.
  • Notifications - Allow the app to send push notifications to the user, if an interesting content is being streamed. 

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Live Streaming MVP

There isn’t a fixed amount, nor can you build a live streaming app for free. The cost of building a live streaming app or MVP depends on the scope of work, the number of hours involved, and design complexity.

Here’s a table for the development cost estimate for 1 platform with an average rate of $50 per hour but also additional works like design, QA, project management and others that may be added by request. 

how to create live video streaming app


How Can We Help You With Developing a Live Streaming App

At Uptech, we have an experienced team with the know-how of building a functional live streaming app. 

Yaza - location-enforced video sharing app

We helped bring Yaza, a real-time video streaming app, to life. Yaza helps users to create, share, and react to video content, and it has a chat function that connects users. Our team rendered services in:

  • Discovery stage
  • Design
  • PM
  • QA
  • iOS Development
  • Backend development.

Live-streaming interactive game show

Our team has also developed a multi-faceted app that combines mobile gaming, live video, and TV-style game shows as part of an interactive entertainment network. The app allows users to watch original shows and the opportunity to win cash prizes on both Android and iOS devices.

Summary

Now, you’ll have a better idea of which platform is most viable for streaming content and the process it takes to build a live streaming app. It’s an industry where there’s a delicate balance between business goals and user experience. 

Often, you’ll need an experienced streaming app developer to guide you along. Talk to our team to learn more about building a live streaming MVP. 

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