The success of Periscope as a live streaming app, together with other applications introducing the live broadcasting function (Facebook, Snapchat, Youtube, etc.) prove: first, custom video broadcasting has grabbed the attention of the users across the globe; second, it is only enforcing its position on the market. With massive amounts of people turning to live streaming both for entertaining and business, creating a live streaming app is getting more and more attractive as an idea.  

Live Video Apps: State Of The Market

Though the first live video streaming apps date back to mid-2000s (Justin.tv, Ustream, Qik), they didn’t gain much popularity: both mobile manufacturers and Internet connection were not ready to give these applications a full swing. Now the situation has changed dramatically: thanks to advances in mobile technologies, video streaming works smoothly and seamlessly for the user, whereas in many parts of the world Internet connection has become omnipresent.

The success of Periscope has benefited from the boost of technologies: bought in 2015 by Twitter, the application (previously called Bounty) was significantly revisited by the Twitter technology team and was released in March 2015 under its by now world-known name of Periscope. The number of users it quickly gained signifies the demand for live and easily accessible streaming apps which existed at the moment: by August 2015 the app had already surpassed 10 million accounts.

This gave way to further development in the sphere, with a 81% increase in the number of users watching live videos in 2016 in comparison with 2015. After the Periscope success which has pushed the live broadcasting format into the public eye, other industry giants such as Facebook or Netflix have added live streaming functionality to their apps in order to retain the interest and loyalty of their issues.

As of 2017, Facebook topped the chart of live-streaming app platforms in the USA (17% of respondents), with Youtube holding the 2nd place with 16%, Snapchat Live Stories – 12%, and Periscope – 9%. The overall situation with streaming looks on the whole extremely positive: according to the stats, watching video online counts for over two-thirds of all Internet traffic, with the expectations that by 2020 it will rise to 82%.

Internet users are opting for live video instead of reading a blog or getting information from social posts. Live videos are used not only for entertainment but for studying, holding business conferences, marketing and promotion – and much more.

Development: Course Of Work

To build a live streaming app seems an attractive idea, but it is not easy to get onto the market and compete with such tech giants as Facebook, Periscope or Snapchat. But the broad use of live streaming nowadays and the utmost interest in them demonstrated by the users gives you a wide scope of option to decide which value your app will bring to its users: whether it is supposed to entertain or challenge them; whether it is supposed to be used for spending free time or for doing business, etc.

When you decide to start the development of your own live streaming app, there are two ways to follow: developing from scratch or using ready-made solutions, like Contus Vplay, GBKSoft and many others. If choosing a ready-made solution, you will invest into license fees for the solution itself and into the work of developers, who will be customising the program for you, whether it involves adding new features and/or developing the pre-installed ones.

If you go for a brand new solution, another question will arise – whether you are planning to go for both platforms, iOS and Android, or you are choosing only one of them, as it will influence the final cost and duration of work. Once it is decided, you are ready to start the development work with a software developing company.

Here is some information which I would like to share with you. I am focusing on the essential and basic features, because in the live streaming application development nowadays the sky is the limit and you can add numerous features once you have a prototype.

Developing The Live Streaming App Features

The live streaming app has the key elements which give to the app its name, i.e. the capability to make a video and directly broadcast it to the app’s final users, plus additional elements which are present in all major live broadcasting apps.

  • Streaming function. A possibility to make a live broadcasting from the mobile phone and deliver it to users in high quality is an intensive and complex part of work which includes native development for each platform, using Swift or Objective C for iOS and Java for Android. The back-end part of the mobile app will be based upon PHP Laravel, and will be enforced by C/C++ modules integrated into the API for a higher video quality and better processing of video streams. For increasing the streaming quality of the app, additional work is to be done, which will add to the total amount of time.
  • Registration function. There are hardly any apps being issued now without the registration function. The typical registration forms include registration via e-mail (i.e. full registration with tying your e-mail to the account and creating a password), phone number and/or social network. The best solution here would be to develop at least two registration forms to give the user a chance to choose which one is more appropriate for him.
  • Personal profile creation. As a live streaming app involves social interaction, the user identification is essential. The information it includes can differ depending on the way you envisage the profile for your users to be, whether it includes basic information or requires more profound coding, for example the one including animation, list of subscriptions, etc.
  • Geolocation. This function has also become a must-have for mobile apps. In case of live streaming applications, it has got a special importance; even the motto of the Periscope app invites to ’explore the world through someone else’s eyes’: thanks to this feature the app helps to simply find the streamings nearby or in a particular region.

If you decide to go for the GPS-chip integrated into the smartphone, it is important to keep in mind that coding for iOS and Android platforms differ from each other.

  • Search engine. To help users find the content they are looking for as quickly as possible, a searching tool with an integrated set of filters is developed. As the app is developed for massive data volumes, the filters can be implemented on the basis of a search engine, for example Elasticsearch. This approach will improve the system’s performance without developing one’s proper solution from scratch.
  • Commenting capability. This function is among the essential ones for a social application, and the ability to leave feedback and get engaged with other users is an indispensable function. With the widespread use of live streaming apps, used by public figures or by participants and/or viewers of certain events, live streaming apps create the level of interaction which didn’t exist before. The function should be available both for the person who is making a live broadcast and the person who is watching it online.

These are the functions which exist in the majority of successful live broadcasting applications and are generally included into the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). If you decide to give additional value to the product and expand its functionality, you can add any extra features such as a capability of exchanging private messages; of creating communities inside the application; of collecting statistics, etc. Each of the functions will add a number of hours to the whole work cycle.

How Much Does It Cost To Develop A Live Streaming App?

According to Zakhar Bessarab, Senior PHP Developer at R-Style Lab, the cycle of development works to build a live streaming app requires a team of no less than 6 developers (comprised of 2 taking care of the back-end part of the work, a team of 2 developers for each platform), a designer, a QA engineer, a Technical Lead and a Project Manager. The whole course of work with making a design for one platform and later adopting it for the second one, with back-end and front-end development, QA and testing will take no less than 32 weeks.

Getting back to developer hourly rates, which makes on the average $120-140 in the USA and $25-35 in Eastern Europe, we get the cost for one app ranging between $680,000 and $800,000, if you choose a US developer, and between $140,000 and $200,000, if you go for an Eastern European app development company.

In this estimate we leave aside additional features as well as developing the functionality needed for getting the app monetisation according to the chosen model: ad display, ‘pay-per-view’ or another one.

Conclusion

With live streaming apps in the phase of a massive growth, more attention is being paid to this market. While some are looking for a niche which remains still not occupied, others are ready to compete with the existing leaders of the market. The tendency shows that the live video broadcasting function gets implemented into the apps of a broader use, like Facebook or Netflix, whereas the apps concentrating merely on providing the streaming function to their users are losing their positions.

Nonetheless, if you decide to create a live streaming app which focuses on video streaming capabilities or includes this into its functionality, you’d better start searching for a development company experienced enough for managing this complex course of work.