Key ingredients for a successful video streaming service

Matthijs Langendijk
5 min readAug 25, 2022

Netflix certainly makes it look easy, don’t they? Great content, a nicely branded application, what more could you need? But don’t let Netflix fool you! There are so many things happening behind the scenes, that it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all the moving parts in what makes a successful video streaming service. In this blog we’ll take a look at some of those moving parts, and what you should pay attention to when building out the potential Netflix-killer.

Flawless watching experience

While you might expect that I would talk about content first, there is something more important than that. Because what is good content if it’s inaccessible to your users? What is good content, if users have to wait for 10 or more seconds before their video will even start to play? A flawless watching experience is crucial in making end-users happy. Because in those 10 seconds, the majority of users will have already decided not to start watching, and will effortlessly switch to another streaming service of their choice. One that does immediately start playback.

Now, starting times are not everything, there is more to the quality of experience than just that. Users expect a smooth overall playback experience. That means limited, if any, rebuffering. That means a good picture quality. But it also means still being able to watch good content while on a limited internet connection. There are so many aspects to look for here. Whether it’s having a proper CDN setup, per-title encoding, or a proper player to actually handle the playback in the correct way — on every device; there are a lot of things coming into play when it comes to the video quality.

Being where the users are

Okay, you have smooth playback, check. Only you might have forgotten that users have more than just a mobile phone to watch their content on (looking at you, Quibi). To make that very clear, I’ll often refer to the image below:

Which type of device is used, often depends on the time of day (and even different days of the week). 7 am, wake up in bed, and it’s a great moment to quickly watch the news. 8 am, having breakfast, and maybe watching half of that series you didn’t manage to finish last night. Obviously, that’ll be on a tablet for a better viewing experience. That paradigm translates all throughout the day, which means the device that’s used for viewing changes constantly. So you can’t do with just a mobile app and website anymore nowadays. Having apps across all the screen sizes out there is key in reaching end-users when they try to interact with your service, all throughout the day.

Content should also change throughout the day

Funny enough, the image I showed above doesn’t just translate to the type of device. It also translates to the type of content that’s consumed during any given time of the day. You’re not immediately starting with your favourite series at 7 am in the morning. That happens at breakfast, and probably later in the evening. Rather, you start the day with news, or with shorter clips. You don’t have too much time before you have to start getting ready for work, right? The same applies to watching content in the evening. Home after a long day of work, finally. It’s now really time to binge my favourite series, I’ve been looking forward to it all day!

Showing the right kind of content at the right moment of the day is crucial. You want to make it as easy as possible for users to start watching. The longer they have to search for the content they want to watch, the quicker they get bored and make the switch to a competing streaming service that does immediately satisfy their needs. It’s all about quick engagement.

Making money

Let’s face it, a business can’t be profitable without making money. Lucky for you, there are plenty of business models to pick from. Whether you want to have a subscription model (SVOD), a pay-per-view model (TVOD) or even an ad-supported service (AVOD); there are plenty of ways to make your streaming service profitable. As with everything though, make it as easy as possible for your users to start watching content. Regardless of what type of business model you have decided to go for. If it’s a subscription service, make it easy to subscribe. If you have ads, make sure they load fast and don’t annoy the user too much by being too long or too frequent. It’s all about making sure users still enjoy a hassle-free experience.

Conclusion — it’s not easy

I’ll admit, just listing all the key ingredients is the easy part. Actually making them happen, successfully, is an incredibly difficult thing to do. There are so many moving parts; different technologies, devices, payment providers, user management, data analytics, recommendations, content management… so many aspects that you have to think about in order to try and make your streaming service as successful as possible.

Fear not, as that’s exactly why a lot of incredibly skilled people are out there in the world building (and helping you build) the best-of-breed streaming services. Whether they work with video players, encoding, data analytics, recommendations backend integrations or frontend applications — specialists are all around and are ready to help you at a moment's notice. And what would you know, they are all coming together at the ‘International Broadcasting Convention’ (IBC) from the 9th to the 12th of September, in Amsterdam. The opportune moment to find meet with some of the specialists that can help you leverage your streaming service to the next level.

24i at IBC

We at 24i will of course be at IBC as well, it is our home town after all! You can visit us, together with our colleagues from Amino Communications, at Hall 5, Booth G38. You can already book an appointment in advance here, so we can make sure we have as much time as we need to work together and tell you all about building successful streaming services together!