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How to build a live streaming app (& why you should)

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Jan 27, 2023 • 7 min read
Isabelle hahn
Isabelle Hahn
SBM blog CTA mobile 1

Drive growth and reduce costs with omnichannel business messaging

SBM blog CTA mobile 1

Drive growth and reduce costs with omnichannel business messaging

Building your own live streaming mobile app is the best way to make an impact in the live streaming boom. Brands can boost engagement with live streaming.

According to Statista, users worldwide spent 550 billion hours streaming live content on mobile apps. Meanwhile, Vantage Market Research found that the global live streaming market will reach US$4.3 billion by 2028.

Companies that want to expand their reach, build brand awareness, and increase user engagement can’t afford to overlook the importance of creating a live streaming app and adding live streaming to their marketing toolkit. Here’s the what, why, and how of building a live streaming mobile app.

What is a live streaming app?

Live Streaming with Sendbird example

A live streaming application allows content creators to capture, broadcast, record, and distribute videos and events in real time. Live stream viewers can simply download an app to their mobile devices or stream content, and many popular social media apps offer live streaming capabilities.

Businesses use live streaming services to engage their audiences with an interactive experience and enable them to participate in live events no matter where they are. These include conferences, online classes, sports events, concerts, product demos, live shopping, watch parties, and more.

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In-app live streaming made easy.

Why should I build a live streaming application or add streaming capabilities to my app?

There are many benefits to creating your own live streaming app instead of relying on third-party video streaming apps.

First of all, video is everything. According to Cisco, online videos account for 82% of all internet traffic and 79% of all mobile traffic in 2022. Meanwhile, Forrester found that viewers spend 10 to 20 times longer watching live content than on-demand (i.e., recorded) videos.

Live streaming offers a bi-directional way for brands to connect and interact with their audiences and increase engagement. They can respond to the viewers’ questions and demands in real-time while building relationships with them.

Moreover, live streaming is an “always-on” channel that allows viewers to access content 24/7 from anywhere. You can stay top of mind by scheduling and optimizing continuous content delivery throughout the customer lifecycle to drive conversions.

While you can stream via social media sites and other third-party platforms to get up and running quickly, you should be aware that third-party falls short to creating a live streaming app in a few ways:

  • Streamers can easily get distracted by other content on their feeds and may leave your event to interact with their friends or visit other websites.
  • These video streaming platforms provide limited features for you to interact with the audience and deliver a seamless, on-brand experience.
  • You can’t deliver an end-to-end live commerce experience, such as a seamless checkout flow or relevant follow-up content.
  • Many platforms have an ad-based monetization strategy, which can negatively affect the user experience.

Creating a streaming app allows you to make your content easily accessible while delivering a distraction-free, on-brand, and consistent experience. Interact with the audience before, during, and after an event as you collect first-party data to inform your marketing strategy. Add instant credibility and sets you apart from competitors fighting for attention on channels like Facebook Live, Twitch, TikTok, and Amazon.

Benefits to adding live streaming functionality to your app:

  • Host branded live streams natively. Curate a live streaming experience directly in your app, where you build brand equity and control data.
  • Engage further with chat and watch parties. Live streaming is an interactive medium that can build relationships quickly and lead to more sales.
  • Drive monetization. Seize immediate business opportunities with third-party integration across payments, fulfillment, and more.

Can live streaming help me increase revenue?

Yes! Live streaming offers many monetization and growth opportunities for brands of any size.

First, it delivers all the benefits of video content. You can engage with a wider audience and increase brand awareness. Then, you can build trust and relationships with viewers to progress them down your sales funnel.

But live streaming takes all these benefits further and brings them home by leveraging real-time interactions (e.g., demos, Q&A) to turn credibility and connections into conversions.

Live streaming may also help you uncover additional revenue opportunities. These include sponsorship, ad revenue, live shopping, pay-per-view content, video-on-demand (VOD) streaming, membership program, and online learning or coaching.

How to build a live streaming app

Here are four essential steps for planning and launching your live video streaming app:

1. Decide whether to build or buy

Like most buy-or-build decisions, you must balance flexibility, unique requirements, development costs, maintenance costs, and time to market.

If you already have an app, adding live streaming and chat capabilities can be easy with an API provided by a third party. You can also build it yourself, DIY style, if you have the in-house know-how or the budget to hire a development team.

In most cases, building app with API allows you to get up and running quickly without the high upfront investment.

Check out our Sendbird Live developer resources:

2. Choose a reliable platform

Next, select a platform to stream, host, and store your content. Poor performance, such as high latency and low-resolution videos, can negatively impact the user experience. Instead, ensure you pick a platform with a reliable and secure infrastructure with a global footprint to minimize latency.

Your platform should support various streaming protocols, including the most popular real-time messaging protocol (RTMP). Also, use a content delivery network (CDN) like AWS CloudFront to eliminate latency, improve scalability, and minimize interruptions.

Consider the must-have features you need to deliver the experience your target audience expects. Look for a platform with a video content management system, monetization options, recording and distribution functions, and integration with third-party payment processors. It must also support multiple video formats compatible with smartphones, PCs, TVs, and other end-user devices.

Additionally, your streaming platform should offer engagement tools such as go-live notifications, pre-registration functions, live chat, moderation, community features, and live video analytics to help you gain real-time audience insights.

3. Design outstanding UI and UX

An excellent user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are critical for successful apps. You must deliver a high-quality and on-brand streaming experience while making it easy and intuitive for the audience to interact with your content and achieve their goals (e.g., making a purchase).

After designing your UI/UX, conduct user testing to ensure your target audience can easily navigate your app. Investing time in user testing can also help you meet ever-changing consumer expectations.

Incorporating all the features you need into an app while maintaining an uncluttered UI is easier said than done. Sendbird Live UIkit helps you implement modern UIs without spending the time and resources to conduct testing and implement upgrades on your own.

4. Build, test, and iterate

After laying the groundwork, release a minimal viable product (MVP) to get feedback and iterate your functionalities. The feedback from your MVP can help you focus your time and resources on developing features that are attractive to your target audience.

Essential features to include in your MVP are user registration and sign-in, live streaming (of course!), user profile, gallery, search, comments, and ratings. Eventually, you may consider additional features such as chat and community, extended search, subscription, recommendations, and push notifications.

Fast-track your live streaming app development with Sendbird

Whether you’re growing a video streaming business or using live streaming to support your existing marketing efforts, Sendbird Live can turn your existing app into a live streaming platform in minutes.

Our user interface software development kits (UI Kits) combine live streaming, live chat, and moderation with ready-built UI components to streamline development. At the same time, the software development kits (SDKs) provide you with total flexibility to design the application of your choice. To supercharge real-time interactions, you can leverage Sendbird Chat and Sendbird Calls available on the platform. Boost engagement with private group chats & watch parties, or drive sales with real-time marketing promotions, one-on-one sales calls, and post-sales support.

Learn more about Sendbird Live and see how easy it is to start live streaming on your own turf.

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