custom ott app development guide

Modern consumers are spending more on over-the-top (OTT) services/platforms than traditional cable networks. 

The mindset of consumers has shifted because they now have smartphones and affordable data plans. 

They’re more inclined towards video streaming platforms because they can watch videos ad-free, download them on the fly, and enjoy the streaming experience at minimal cost. 

Even if you ask yourself where you spend most of your time on apps? You know the answer, that’s Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu. 

That’s why OTT platforms are on the rise. They provide on-demand personalized content that you’ll not find anywhere. 

Americans spend nearly 70% of their time on OTT platforms and many of them prefer to binge-watch videos. Thus, it increases the app engagement rate. 

So, if you are an entrepreneur or startup founder looking to kickstart your app idea into an OTT platform, then this guide is for you. 

In this blog, we’ll cover everything about what OTT services are, the features of OTT app development, how to create a stellar OTT app in 2024, and how much it costs you.  

What are OTT services? 

OTT stands for being over the top of traditional media channels meaning you can now view TV and film content across multiple devices such as computers, tablets, or mobile phones.  

The companies that are dealing in OTT streaming services provide access to premium content without requiring cable TV connection or satellite provider.  

Users need a subscription to access OTT media services. 

Watching series online on streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu are popular examples of OTT content providers.  

Consumers love consuming original and on-demand content that they can watch anytime, and OTT does the same. 

Now, a lot of businesses are confused that OTT apps are meant for million-dollar brands, however, it’s not true.  

Small and Independent content providers can even launch their OTT apps across internet-connected devices. 

So, if you are an entrepreneur, a small business owner, or even a creator, OTT is a game changer as it helps you reach your targeted audience.  

Why is the demand for OTT content increasing over traditional TV platforms?  

People love consuming online content through OTT platforms for infotainment purposes.  

Gone are the days when people relied on traditional cable networks to entertain themselves.  

These days they want unlimited entertainment from one device all within the comfort of their home. 

In the last few years, demand for OTT platforms has increased significantly because the young generation, especially millennials, are becoming lazy as they want everything at their own pace.  

But here are 3 reasons that increases the popularity of OTT apps- 

1. Accessibility  

Unlike traditional media platforms, OTT services provide flexibility to consumers to view hundreds of films and web series anytime, anywhere, and at their own pace.  

2. Customized content  

Do you wonder how Netflix became people’s favorite streaming platform?  

It’s because people always get exclusive and original content. That’s why Netflix is considered the #1 OTT provider in the world where people spend an average of 3.2 hours daily.  

Platforms like Netflix provide customized content to users based on their preferences. And that makes their viewing experience far better.  

3. Cost-effective  

The cost of subscribing to OTT platforms is quite affordable as compared to paying for traditional cable or satellite-based subscriptions.  

Users can access any plan of their choice such as basic, standard, or premium and each plan offers different prices.  

The cost of each plan differs depending on what features you need.  

For example – If you want to view premium content on Netflix, then it comes with an expensive subscription plan which includes features such as multiple supported devices, ad-free content, and offline content downloading etc.  

In a nutshell, as you can see there’s a change in user behavior, so this means businesses can find immense potential in the OTT app development market. 

Current Market insights on OTT platform development  

The media industry has undergone various challenges from the time of talkies to the advent of Hollywood where people enjoyed consuming content on big screens in big studios.  

Then comes an era where you can bring a theatre-like experience to your home through TV networks and small screens. Now, the era of technology starts with 5G networks on the peak, affordable data plans on the fly, and smartphones in your hand.  

The media consumption habits of users have changed with the rise in content producers and streaming service providers who deliver content directly to them.  

Hence, investing in OTT app development services is a profitable option for you to reach a wider audience, engage with them through your content, and later monetize the content in the future. 

Let’s take a quick overview of what numbers say about OTT streaming platforms-  

  • The market size of OTT globally was $202.5 billion in 2022. The demand is expected to rise by $434.5 billion in 2027.  Thus, it means it’s a profitable option for you to mark your digital footprint in this domain.  
  • Streaming has become a HOTTEST domain now. In the US, consumer spending on OTT video services has surpassed 34 billion US dollars in 2022. It’s expected to rise by 50 billion dollars by 2027. 
  • Most of the population in the US (Nearly 75%) prefers to consume online content through OTT video streaming services.  
  • There are 377 independent OTT providers in the US.  
  • Revenue in the OTT market domain is expected to rise by US $ 316.40 billion in 2024.  
  • There are over 300 OTT platforms in the US and the most popular ones are Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, etc.  

From these statistics, you now understand that OTT platforms have become the lifeblood for consumers as they can stream movies and TV shows online with just a few clicks. 

What are the various types of OTT streaming apps you can go with?  

1. Video streaming apps  

The most preferred content format in the OTT platform is video. Video streaming apps provide on-demand access to video content and live videos (movies, TV shows, series, and originals). 

Popular examples of subscription-based video apps include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.  

2. Audio  

Just like video content, users are demanding audio content because of increasing internet penetration and the growing popularity of music. 

A study was conducted by Deloitte which states that the audio market globally has been increasing as more and more consumers, especially Gen Z and Millennials are heading towards audiobooks, podcasts, streaming audio services, and radio.  

The graph below shows that the audio entertainment market has become a lucrative option for streaming service providers because this industry will attract more listeners in 2024.   

global audio entertainment market

An increase in the number of podcast and audiobook listeners opens doors for monetization for OTT platforms. 

Deloitte even predicts that the aggregation of global revenue for the audio entertainment market for all formats (audiobooks, podcasts, streaming audio service, radio) will reach $75 billion US revenue in 2024.  

Do you know that the audio market is gaining huge prominence these days?   

It’s because of 3 factors – low cost, convenience, and premium content quality. 

3. Messaging OTT 

Your OTT messaging platform requires users to have an internet connection for sending and receiving messages.  

Some popular OTT messaging apps including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc. These have become the home for billions of consumers. 

What features do you need to include in developing OTT apps?  

1. Smart Search functionality 

Smart Search functionality

A search feature truly changes the experience of users. It gives comfort to users to search for content they desire such as TV shows, movies, other video content, etc.  

You can integrate machine learning technology to provide personalized song recommendations to users based on their viewing history, preferences, behavior patterns, watching time, what device is used for watching videos, etc. 

This is called a smart recommendation algorithm. 

Do you wonder how Netflix shows your favorite playlists or series on your feed?   

That’s possible because the company uses a recommendation algorithm, and it starts at the time when a user creates an account.  

Netflix’s main forte is to provide a comforting experience to users and save their time by learning their needs and preferences.  

2. Watchlist 

A watchlist is another handy feature that users love. When developing an OTT app, make sure to add a Watchlist feature so that users can find the favorite content they saved.  

They need not worry about browsing through various tracks and videos to find the stuff that interests them most. 

A watchlist feature encourages users to spend more time on the app, which is a plus point for your business. To bring users back to your app, consider integrating a notification feature in your streaming app.  

3. Multilingual content  

For you to bag millions of users on your streaming app, you need to consider adding a multilingual content feature to cater to a wider range of audiences living in different countries/regions. 

Think about Netflix, a popular OTT content provider that has a presence in over 190 countries, wanted to provide a satisfying experience to users, so they shifted their focus to other languages as well besides English. 

Customers can watch their favorite TV and movies through dubbing and subtitles available in various languages. 

4. Profile management  

When stepping into your shoes in OTT app development, you must add a user profile feature.   

This way, you can know a lot about users, put yourself in their shoes, and identify key information about them such as when they have renewed their subscription, what tracks they like, when their plan is going to expire, etc.  

With a multi-profile management feature, you provide them with an advantage of adding multiple users within a single account just like Amazon Prime offers to its customers.   

In the case of Amazon Prime, a user can add up to 6 user profiles in a single Amazon account. They can check their watching progress individually and receive personalized recommendations depending on their profile activity. 

More importantly, to increase in-app OTT revenue, add this feature to your premium plan.  

5. Social profile 

Social sharing option in any OTT app enhances your user experience as they can post about their watching experience on various social media networks.  

When users talk about your OTT app, they’ll influence others to hop on this platform.   

And you can expect more users on your app.  

6. Screen Mirroring  

Screen mirroring is the MUST-HAVE feature that you should provide to your target audience. You can make the viewing experience more interesting by making your OTT app widely available for TV and desktop devices.  

This way you can increase your user engagement rate by showing the same type of display on larger screens.  

7. Payment Integration  

The integration of a secure payment gateway is important in your OTT app.  

This is the last stage when the user is almost ready to take a ride on your app. So make the payment process as smooth as possible. 

Consider adding multiple payment options to them so they can start their journey with you and become your FINAL customer. 

3 OTT monetization strategies you should know for developing an OTT platform 

As consumer preferences are shifting towards video streaming platforms, it provides an opportunity for businesses to make money through their OTT platforms.  

Here are 3 main OTT monetization strategies you can use to increase revenue, meet your viewership goals, retain your audience, and lure your customers to spend more time on the app. 

1. Subscription-based video on demand (SVOD) 

In this monetization model, viewers pay a subscription fee for accessing on-demand video content. 

The most common OTT players that earn billions of dollars in revenue from this model include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, etc.  

Generally, companies following this subscription model charge between $5-$15 per month.  

2. Advertising video on demand (AVOD) 

Under this model, viewers can access video content for free, but OTT platform service providers showcase ads before, during, and after the viewing experience.  

Through ads, advertisers can reach a wider audience and earn revenue from it. Some examples of these platforms include Hulu, YouTube, etc.  

3. Transaction video on demand (TVOD)  

Unlike the subscription-based model, users need not worry about paying monthly or yearly subscriptions to watch unlimited series and videos.   

They must pay a one-time fee for accessing one video or series. This model depends on the per-time view for specific videos and exclusive/premium episodes. 

Step by Step Process for creating OTT web/mobile apps 

OTT app development process

The app development process for OTT doesn’t happen overnight. Multiple stages are involved in OTT app development starting with market research, design, development, testing, and deployment. 

These are the steps as listed below-  

1. Conduct market research for OTT app  

You cannot start with a blank canvas though you are clear about what you want to develop.  

Conducting market research is super important to know your target customers, identify their preferences, and see what players are dominating the market in the OTT segment. 

Play with existing streaming platforms and find gaps in their subscription model, user experience, and content offerings. 

When defining your OTT app idea, be clear about a few things- 

  • Who is your target audience?  
  • How will you provide value to them? 
  • How can you enhance their app experience?  

2. Decide the features in your app  

Create a checklist of features you want to add to the app and those should meet your audience’s goals and preferences.  

When creating a mobile app for an OTT domain, these are some of the core features you can add such as smart search functionality, user profile management, social sharing capabilities, payment integration, etc.  

3. Craft the UI/UX design 

The success of your digital product depends on how appealing your UI/UX design is.  

Users love to stay on apps/websites that provide a soothing experience to them.  

Think about a mobile app that provides an easy-to-use search function, smooth navigation, a visually appealing app interface, attractive color schemes, and a seamless payment journey.  

Do you want to stick to such an app? Yes, after all.  

That makes a big difference because it creates an engaging user experience. 

Netflix, one of the popular sites for entertainment purposes, has a stellar UI/UX design.   

The moment you land on their website, you fall in love with it because it has a simple yet minimal user interface that prompts you to watch unlimited movies and shows anytime and anywhere by doing a simple login. 

Before the registration process was complete, their designers added a progress section for users to see how many steps they were behind.   

appealing UI UX design

Now, once you head to the home feed, the OTT platform asks you to pick a handful of series or movies that you love watching.  

Based on your preferences, they will curate the whole feed for you. Moreover, the company followed the best UI/UX design practices to help users navigate mobile apps or websites.  

  • Simple navigation  
  • A consistent color scheme is used (black, red, and white)  
  • Clear call-to-action buttons  
  • There’s no clutter on the landing page. The whole user interface is divided into various categories such as “TV shows”, “News”, “Movies” and “New and popular”.  

Do you want to enhance your user experience? 

4. Develop the app 

Now, comes the point where you need to pick a reliable tech vendor who knows how to create killer OTT apps that provide an impeccable experience to users.  

Creating an OTT platform involves deciding the tech stack for front end and back-end side of things. 

You will make a final call regarding –  

  • Choice of programming languages  
  • Tech stack for Front end development  
  • Technology for Backend development  
  • Databases  
  • Payment integration  

It all depends on your app idea and your intended audience.  

5. Test the app 

After doing a lot of hard work, the time has come for you to test your OTT platform so that it provides an unparalleled user experience. 

For that, hire a team of Q/A or find a trustworthy app development agency in the USA that provides a handful of experienced Q/A testers who will – 

  • conduct the thorough testing of your application,  
  • check for app performance or user interaction issues,  
  • does it work well on multiple devices or not. 

6. Launch the basic version of the app 

In this step, create a minimal version of the app (MVP). 

Just add basic features to your OTT app when starting, test your app, receive feedback from early adopters, and then fine-tune the app later by adding or subtracting the features that your audience loves. 

Do you want to validate your OTT app idea? 

7. App deployment 

After launching an MVP in the market, it’s the right time for you to publish your app on Play store or App store depending on where your audience hangs the most. Working with an experienced app development team can help you create a space in the OTT domain. 

How much does it cost to create an OTT platform?  

There’s no fixed cost when it comes to OTT platform development as there are plenty of factors that affect the cost of developing an OTT app such as –  

  • How much do developers charge?  
  • Features you need in the OTT app  
  • How simple or complex is the app design?  
  • Type of app 
  • Timeline to create an app 

In a nutshell, the average one-time cost of developing an OTT app is around $50,000 to $80,000. The duration of creating an OTT app takes around 3- 4 months.  

On top of that, the estimated running cost for infrastructure ranges between $4000 -$5000 because streaming cost is expensive. 

Wrapping up 

Now, you understand that creating an OTT app isn’t a complex game, but all it requires is a good development team that has hands-on experience in over-the-top app development services. 

The media industry offers immense potential for startups and enterprises to create a digital footprint in the industry. Findings of the streaming report state that around 93% of Americans prefer spending their time on streaming video platforms.   

Not only that, but the average viewer also spends $50 per month on 4 streaming platforms out of which Netflix is leading the frontier.  

This means that OTT has become a profitable domain now that can turn an ordinary brand into a million-dollar venture. 

So, if you want to hold a bigger pie in the market and earn greater revenue than your cable TV, then this’s the perfect time for you to jump towards the OTT landscape.  

At BigOhTech, our experienced app developers are proficient in taking your digital entertainment game to the next level. 

They don’t just craft cookie-cutter solutions, they understand your business needs and then come up with a custom OTT app that exceeds your expectations. 

Apart from that, we provide an array of services in the OTT app domain such as –  

  • Video streaming solutions  
  • OTT app maintenance and support  
  • Live streaming solutions  
  • Video-on-demand platform  
  • Smart TV app development 

Do you need to dominate your app in the OTT domain? 


Q1. What challenges do you face in OTT app development? 

There are various challenges involved in creating OTT app platforms- 

  • Content delivery challenges 
  • Issues related to UX such as slow loading app, cluttered user interface, difficult navigating the app 
  • Securing the user’s data 

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