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From this article, you will learn how to launch your streaming service
like Netflix. We’ll tell you how to choose a niche, where to get media content from, and what features to implement in a Netflix clone so that viewers like it. We will also specify an estimated cost of the development
of a streaming website.
Choose a niche for streaming
CuriosityStream — a Netflix clone targeted at documentary films and series. It managed to attract 13 million paying subscribers in 5 years
If you just create a clone
and introduce it into the market, you’ll have to compete with such giants as YouTube TV, Apple TV+, Hulu, HBO Max, CBS, Showtime, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, and of course Netflix. It’s possible, but you need a multimillion budget, which will allow you to develop a streaming service
as well as run a serious marketing campaign. Aside from that, you’ll need to spend a lot of money on the purchase or creation of exclusive content.
Instead, you better launch a niche project targeted at meeting the needs of a certain target audience like the streaming service CuriosityStream did, which presents docuseries, films, and specials spanning science, nature, history, technology, and society. This project was launched in 2015 and it managed to attract 13 million paying subscribers
in five years. This is an amazing result for a highly competitive market.
Here are several promising niches that you can use:
- Regional projects. Streaming services are well developed only in North America, Europe, and some Asian countries. Whereas in Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, there are plenty of countries where people almost don’t know either Netflix or its analogs. You can fill one of such vacant niches by betting on home-born media content.
- Content for children. This may be cartoons, series, films, or informative TV shows. Not only children but also grown-ups will be interested in this site as they will be able to leave their kids in front of the screen without being worried that they would see something inappropriate there (yes, there is usually a feature of parental control on existing streaming websites; however, as a rule, it’s not hard to get around it).
- At present, people more often watch documentary movies or videos with instructions than reading books and manuals, which creates excellent conditions for the launch of an educational project. Herewith it will be an especially great idea if you bet on an audience, which doesn’t know English, Chinese, Spanish, French, or Russian.
- Yes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and other giants are dominating here, but you may bet on a sub-niche like Brown Sugar did, which calls itself «the biggest collection of the baddest movies».
- This might be both sport in general and a specific sports discipline like rugby, volleyball, chess, Esports, or another sport that is poorly highlighted on other streaming platforms.
Determine a business model
Cost and subscription parameters on Netflix
Netflix provides its clients with legal access to an enormous base of movies, series, and TV shows, which they are able to watch whenever and without annoying ads. The platform takes $9, $14, or $18 per month for it depending on the subscription type. In 2020, Netflix started testing a free option of access with ads and significant restrictions on content available to watch.
When creating a clone
, you can use the same monetization model. Nevertheless, be prepared that if you don’t have unique content, it’s unlikely that you make a profit. Unique content is pretty expensive. Moreover, even if you have money, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be eligible to be showing new blockbusters on your service because HBO, Disney, and that same Netflix are paying for their production now to demonstrate them only on their platforms.
Here is a description of available monetization models of streaming services:
MVP functional of a Netflix clone
- Video on subscription. Provision of free access to content in exchange for a monthly or annual subscription. It’s suitable for platforms with unique content. Examples: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max.
- With ad breaks. Demonstration of a video with ad breaks like on traditional television. It’s a great option if you need to attract viewers quickly, but there’s no possibility to get exclusive rights for the demonstration of popular media content. Examples: YouTube, Hulu.
- With the purchase of separate movies. In case of this monetization model, you’ll be able to offer separate movies and series for rent or in possession in exchange for a one-time payment (there used to be shops, where it was possible to buy a movie in the same way or rent it for a week). Examples: iTunes, YouTube.
- Hybrid model. Finally, you can integrate several models to improve the cost-effectiveness of the project. All major services do that sooner or later. Examples: YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video.
Define media content sources
"Video content budget of Netflix from 2013 to 2020. Source
At the next stage of the creation of a Netflix clone, you need to decide where you’ll be taking content for your service from: buy it or create it on your own. If you’re planning to buy media content, then you have to obtain a license for its public demonstration. In the USA, you can get such permissions in Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) and/or SWANK Motion Pictures.
When obtaining a similar license, note that there are different kinds of them. For instance, a distributor can sell you rights for the demonstration not of the entire series, but of only one season. This may be even more convenient because if the series doesn’t become popular with your users, you can delete it and not renew the license for the next season.
Besides, you should remember that some movies and series could be under exclusive distribution rights: only one service has an exclusive right for streaming. The permission may have a restriction on showing a movie or series only in one country or region, or on the contrary, there is a prohibition on showing a movie or a series in a certain country.
If you want to produce content, be prepared for heavy expenses. For instance, the average cost to produce a major studio movie has been around $65 million. The cost of series production is rapidly approaching these budgets: $2-7 million for one episode. An exception is arthouse and independent movies, the price of which ranges from the cost of a few beers and a phone to several hundred thousand dollars.
Choose an approach to the development of a Netflix clone
WordPress. The simplest way to launch a Netflix clone is to use a respective CMS WordPress theme; for example, WPVS by Netflix Theme ($90) or VideoFlix by CactusThemes ($30). You can use them to launch such a website as Netflix within half an hour and it doesn’t cost much – $0 to $100. However, this service might have problems with reliability, integrations, and scalability as this is just a template and not a fully-featured and high-quality software product.
Nevertheless, you may use WordPress themes if you need to test a concept really quickly and cheaply or if there are no competitors in the chosen niche. But in both cases, you’ll have to develop a full streaming platform, which will be able to process a high volume of traffic of streaming video and provide protection of users’ personal data.
Custom development. This is the only way to create a clone customized to a certain niche and focused on a particular customer’s needs. This is how you can develop a platform with necessary technologies (3D, VR, AR, MR, voice control, neural networks, blockchain) and integrations (social media, payment gateways, business integrations, SmartTV services).
It requires a development team, which consists of:
- 1 project manager
- 1-2 UX designers
- 1-2 backend developers
- 1-2 Android developers
- 1-2 iOS developers
- 1 quality assurance specialist
- 1 business analyst
The cost of the custom development of a Netflix clone depends on developers’ place of residence as their salaries may vary in different countries. Specifically, an average rate of a specialist from the USA is $95 per hour, Western Europe (Great Britain, Germany, France) — $67, Eastern Europe (Ukraine) — $32. Herewith the quality of an end product is comparable as even such pillars of the IT market as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon outsource many tasks by developers from cheaper «countries» (mainly Ukraine, Russia, and India).
Develop an MVP of a Netflix clone
Technology stack. To launch a site like Netflix, you need certain development tools — starting with programming languages and ending with services of cloud data storage. Here’s a short list of things you need to use:
. The more features there are, the higher the cost is. Respectively, you better add only the main features to the first version of the service because it will lower the cost of launching the site
and allow launching it as quickly as possible. Later, in line with the increasing popularity of your site, you may add more features.
Here is a list of the main features of a streaming website:
- Website design. A key point is maintaining the simplicity and convenience of Netflix’s design because the more complex it is, the fewer people will want to figure it out even if there is really cool content on the site.
- Target platforms. Most viewers watch content on TV using special streaming players, smart TVs, and game consoles). Computers and smartphones are popular as well.
- Payment gateways. There is no need to integrate your own payment gateway into your app if you are going to use an operating system from Apple or Google. Android and iOS have their own mobile payment systems that allow making purchases in the App Store and Google Play just with one click of the button. Other platforms require Amazon Payments Braintree, PayPal, and Stripe.
- Users’ registration. Account creation on Netflix is happening via email, phone, or Facebook account. Everything is usual and simple.
- User profile. It makes it possible for viewers to add their preferences here: favorite genres, actors, directors, studios, countries, movies, and series. Based on this information, Netflix’s algorithm recommends new movies and series to the users.
- Content search system. A standard system of keyword search and the possibility to use filters (genre, actors, country, IMDb rating).
- Blocking of screenshots, video recording. It’s needed for protection from piracy. Yes, it easy to get around it on Netflix and other websites. However, the presence of this blocking is almost mandatory for distributors and media content creators.
- Chat and comments. They allow users to communicate with each other and leave their impressions of the watched movies, series, or TV shows.
- Multiple language support. It’s best that a Netflix clone supports several languages. It increases the number of users.
- Users are able to select subtitles, audio track, on / off, volume control, rewind, etc.
- Push notifications. Make it possible to notify users once a new movie with their favorite actors or a new episode of a TV series is released or a subscription is ended.
. They help make your app more interesting and unique, which increases more users.
Here is a list of features, which may improve the user experience:
- Integration with social media. This is not only registration and login via social media but also pulling a profile picture, age, gender, language, and the like.
- Live streaming video. It’s a useful feature for those, who watch live broadcasting of sports events, news, podcasts, TV programs, and shows.
- Ratings and reviews. Users should have a possibility to rate movies and television programs to form their own ratings on the basis of your portal users’ opinions.
- Offline watching. Allow users to save media content on their devices so that they can watch it even when there is no Internet connection available. It helps to save mobile traffic during trips and vacations.
- High video quality. The minimum quality on Netflix is 480 pixels, the standard one is 1080, and the premium one is 4K. You can also add Ultra HD 8K. These devices aren’t very popular though.
- Geo-blocking. Firstly, due to different restrictions in separate regions of the world, some of the available content in your app can be forbidden in these regions. Secondly, a license for showing some content can be restricted to particular countries or regions.
- Content recommendation algorithm. Netflix offers the CineMatch system to recommend content to users. It’s unknown how exactly it works. You can find out more about such an algorithm in our other article.