How Do I Create a Live Streaming Website (Platform)?

Live Streaming

We are living in an era of the boom in video streaming technologies. It has never been easier to create a feed and stream straight to the consumers in real-time. Just pick your smartphone, open Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, and stream seamlessly to your followers in real-time, free of cost.

However, this trend is gradually taking another course, which is not-so-friendly to the content creators. You might have heard the saying- if a business is offering you something free of cost, then you are their product. Like every other business model that uses consumers like a product, social media platforms with free live streaming services have grown affinitive to the advertisers. After all, the advertisers pay to these platforms, so the advertisers are served.

On popular, free live streaming platforms-

  • Advertisers have taken over, and they may directly and indirectly influence the content, too.
  • These third-party platforms also control the visibility of your content.
  • The revenue sharing with content creators is also diminishing day after day.

If you want to have-

  • creative freedom,
  • freedom from platform’s influence on your content,
  • a secure place in the upcoming boom in the live streaming industry, and
  • a stable long-term business model with uncapped possibilities and revenue,

Now is the time to move ahead and build your live streaming website.

Please note that I am not against using social media and live streaming platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and others. In fact, these platforms are great for connecting you to billions of target consumers. I even recommend using social media live streaming for marketing and boosted visibility, but only as a tool; rather than the platforms using you.

Social media platforms should just be marketing tools that help you to reach out to your target consumers, whom you may drive off-site for boosted prospects. They shouldn’t represent your entire business model.

That’s why, if you are streaming to achieve big goals in the future, creating your live streaming website is the first step to reach that next level. So, how to create live streaming website? Let’s find out your options in detail.

How to create a live streaming website from scratch?

In this section, we are going to discuss how to create a live streaming website, and how to prepare your strategies for the same. We will also compare two major ways to achieve your goals, and which one would suit your requirements and budget the most. Let’s start with the pre-development strategies first.

A. Choose your business model

As a live streaming business, your real-time feeds are your products. Hence, your business model should focus on delivering your product to the target consumers and devising a monetization strategy to generate revenue from it.

1. Content strategy

Like every other business, you need strategies to procure your products, so you can sell them to your customers. Before you go any further, just ask these questions to yourself about your products:

  • What type of live content will you be streaming?
  • Who is it for?
  • Why are you streaming- for monetizing, or marketing?
  • How do you plan on generating revenue from your streams?
  • What sort of revenue model suits your content?

Answers to these questions will set a course of action for the next phase in your endeavor. Everything from content procurement to revenue channels, design of the website, features you need, and budget of streaming solutions depends on what’s your content about.

For example, if you are planning to start a live streaming website for marketing and communicating with your target audience of the primary products and services of your business, you wouldn’t need a revenue channel. However, if you are starting a live streaming business, where you would be offering content like products, you need apt revenue channels to generate income.

Let’s understand some major revenue strategies in detail.

2. Monetization strategy

You can rely on three major monetization channels to generate revenue with your live streams as products:

  • Transactional model: Users pay to access individual streams.
  • Subscription model: Users pay a monthly subscription fee to access all streams in the billing period.
  • Ad-based model: Users can access content free of cost, but they will also see ads from your advertising partners. You can experiment with in-roll, pre-roll, and post-roll Ads.

My recommendations would be to choose your revenue strategies based on the type of content you would be streaming. For example, if you are streaming live sports events, you can use the transactional model as a way to sell tickets to individual matches, while you can also show Ads in between the breaks. However, if you are streaming a live music concert, you might not get enough slots to show Ads. Hence, using the transactional model would work just fine.

If you ask me, my inclinations rest on using a hybrid of the three models for the following reasons:

  • Many people just hate Ads. They can pay a subscription fee for an Ad-free experience.
  • Those who are not bothered by Ads can watch your streams free of cost.
  • You can use the transaction model while streaming extremely popular events.

A hybrid of the three models can offer the most value to all categories of consumers while also giving you ample opportunities to stabilize your income, and scale your business to accommodate all sorts of content.

B. Choose a video streaming and hosting platform

Once you have figured out your content and monetization strategies, it’s time to find a tech solution that can cater to your needs. Any streaming platform is built on two main components:

1. Streaming and hosting platform

A set of solutions to handle streaming requirements, storing your media files, and delivering them to the streaming devices. The set of solutions may include:

  • Encoder: To encode live streams into data-packets that can be transmitted from the streamer’s device to the consumers through a network. You can choose from both software and hardware encoders, depending on your requirements. Software encoders are suitable for small-to-medium scale requirements, and they are comparatively affordable.
  • Media server: To transmit encoded data-packets via a content delivery network (CDN) from streamer’s device to consumer’s device. Please note: media servers are different from web hosting servers.
  • Decoder: A hardware or software component that decodes the encoded data-packets into media formats that can be played on the user’s device.
  • Player: A software component that plays the decoded files and controls the user’s experience with options such as play/pause/stop a video stream, fast forward, mute, etc.

2. User interface

A set of solutions to present respective user experiences to the consumers, streamers, and admin of a streaming website. The solutions may include:

  • Admin Panel: To control the website interface, users, monetization aspects, and streams, etc.
  • Front-panel: For the end-users (both streamers and consumers) to control their respective aspects such as starting a stream, terminating a stream, browsing a stream, purchase access to a stream, manage user profile, etc.

C. Build a website and embed live streaming into it

A complete live streaming website for a business can be summed up as a combination of all the above components that function in coordination with each other. To build such a website from scratch, you need to take care of the following crucial modules:

1. Admin Features:

  • User Management: Track user data, manage subscribers, manage streamers, etc.
  • Broadcast Management: Track live streams and data of previous streams.
  • Monetization Management: Manage revenue channels on the website.
  • Revenue Management: Track and manage revenue data and pay-outs.
  • Analytics and Reports: Track and represent all kinds of data into tables, graphs, and other formats.
  • Settings: Manage entire website settings such as name, logo, APIs, web pages, etc.

2. Front-End Features:

  • Authentication: Access control and authentication of front-end users.
  • Profile Management: Add, update, remove personal information.
  • Broadcast Management: Create, Manage, Browse live streams.
  • Real-time chat: users can send live text messages to streamers.
  • Search box: Users can search for live streams or streamers on the website.
  • Follow users: Users can follow other users and streamers.

D. Cost to build a live streaming website from scratch

The above mentioned are minimum viable modules that a live streaming website must possess. As seen in the quotations presented by development firms across the planet, the final cost of such an MVP could be estimated as follows:

  • Southern Asia: Approximately $50,000 (taking development cost as $30/hour)
  • Europe: Approximately $80,000 (taking development cost as $50/hour)
  • USA: Approximately $150,000 (taking development cost as $100/hour)

Please note that actual costs might increase/decrease based on your unique requirements and the complexity of the features. I have estimated these budgets based on the quotations given by reputed development companies for around 1000-1500 hours, and a team of at least the following resources:

  • Project Manager
  • Technical Lead
  • iOS developer
  • Android developer
  • Backend developer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Web Designer/UI Engineer
  • QA and Testing Engineer

Choose the Smarter way –save all your time, money, and efforts

There are turnkey scripts that allow you to set up live streaming websites upfront using a graphical user interface. These are ready-made scripts with a collection of all the components mentioned in this article. You can either build a website from scratch and integrate these components, or you can use a turnkey live streaming script to save all your time, money, and efforts.

Based on your requirements, a turnkey script can get you a ready-made website, admin panel, integrated components, mobile apps, and all essential APIs out of the box. All you have to do is install the source code of the script on your web server, where you can personalize and take your website live on the go.

You can get a decent MVP for as low as $400-500 (website only), and $800-$1000 with ready-made mobile apps. Just Google the term – turnkey live streaming software, you will find many results.

However, I suggest going for turnkey scripts that provide open source-code access. Having the source code gives you an edge, as you can customize your website and choose component providers according to your requirements and budget.

SaaS live streaming scripts are also a good option, but the lack of source-code access can limit your prospects and customizability. For example, you cannot choose your hosting provider, video player, media server, etc. However, SaaS solutions don’t charge upfront but small monthly recurring fees. So, they might be useful if you can’t spare an upfront investment. Choose wisely.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.