Creating an OTT Platform: The Ultimate Guide to OTT app development

A3Logics 03 Jul 2023


Streaming media apps are transforming how people consume content, and over-the-top (OTT) platforms now compete directly with traditional cable and satellite TV providers. As demands for on-demand, personalized streaming services continue to grow, opportunities are emerging for new OTT platforms that deliver value to specific niches and audiences. However, OTT app development goes far beyond just creating a video player – it requires expertise across content, technology, experience design, business operations, and legal compliance. Moreover, a comprehensive monetization model and competitive strategy are essential for long-term sustainability.


This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to create your own OTT platform, from defining your goals and sourcing content to choosing the right technologies, designing features that users love, determining a business model, ensuring legal compliance, analyzing competitors, and iterating based on market feedback.


By following the steps in this guide, you’ll be well-positioned to launch an OTT application that satisfies customer needs, generates revenue, and helps you achieve your organizational objectives. Whether that means building a new business, distributing your existing media offerings, or simply experimenting in an emerging market.


What are OTT Apps?


OTT apps are streaming media services that deliver audio and video content to users directly over the Internet without requiring users to subscribe to traditional cable or satellite TV.

Some well-known examples of OTT apps are Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music. These streaming services provide on-demand access to movies, TV shows, music, podcasts, and other content.


Users connect to OTT apps using an Internet-connected device like a smartphone, tablet, computer, or smart TV. They do not need a set-top box or cable/satellite subscription as traditional TV users do. Instead, they pay a subscription fee directly to the OTT service provider.


Compared to cable or satellite TV, OTT apps generally offer a lower cost, and more flexible viewing experience since users can access content anywhere, anytime on their devices. However, OTT apps typically have a narrower selection of content and live channels.


OTT apps are transforming the media landscape by disrupting the traditional pay-TV model through direct-to-consumer delivery of content over the Internet. Their popularity has grown rapidly in recent years as more consumers cut the cord in favor of streaming services.


Why Do People Prefer OTT Apps to Conventional Platforms?


Here are the reasons why people prefer OTT apps to conventional platforms. People prefer OTT apps over conventional TV for many reasons:

  • Cost-OTT apps are generally more affordable than cable or satellite TV packages. Subscription rates are lower and users avoid equipment rental fees.
  • Convenience– OTT apps allow users to access content anywhere, anytime across multiple devices. They don’t require scheduling viewings around linear TV programming.
  • Content selection– While OTT apps have a narrower selection of live channels, they typically offer a wider range of on-demand movies and TV shows to choose from.
  • User experience– OTT apps provide a more personalized streaming experience with recommendation systems, profiles for multiple users, and content filtering options.
  • Flexibility– Users can easily pause their subscriptions when not actively using OTT apps. They’re not locked into long-term cable contracts.
  • Device choice– OTT apps can be used on a variety of devices, from smartphones to smart TVs, giving users more options for how they consume content.
  • No equipment needed – Unlike conventional TV, OTT apps require no set-top box, cable cords, or satellite dish. Users simply need an Internet connection.

People generally prefer OTT apps due to their lower cost, enhanced convenience, flexibility, personalized experience, and device choice. However, conventional TV still offers benefits like more live channel options and established content libraries that some users value. Ultimately it comes down to individual priorities and needs.


Why Should You Invest in OTT app development?


The global OTT market is growing rapidly and is expected to surge in the coming years. This makes OTT app development a worthwhile investment, offering several potential benefits:

  • Large user base – The streaming market continues to grow as more people cut the cord and shift to OTT services. This means a sizable audience for your app.
  • High demand – There is strong consumer demand for more choice and variety in OTT content, representing an opportunity for new apps to fill gaps in the market.
  • New revenue streams – Developing a successful OTT app can generate subscription fees, advertising income, and e-commerce revenues.
  • Lower costs – OTT apps have lower content and infrastructure costs compared to traditional media platforms. This improves potential profit margins.
  • High growth market – The global OTT market is projected to grow at 17-20 % annually through 2027 fueled by increasing Internet penetration, affordable data plans, and more.
  • Ability to niche down – There is room for niche OTT apps targeting specific genres, interests, and demographics that major streamers can’t address.


Investing in OTT app development today provides access to a large and rapidly growing market with opportunities for new business models, revenue streams, and the ability to meet the specialized needs that major streaming services cannot.


What are the Advantages of the OTT Applications?


OTT or over-the-top applications like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu provide numerous benefits over traditional cable or satellite TV:

  • Lower cost – OTT applications typically cost less than pay TV packages since there are no equipment rental or installation fees. Subscription plans start as low as $5 to $10 per month.
  • Convenience – OTT users can access content anywhere, anytime through apps on multiple devices. There are no set viewing times or channel surfs. Content can be downloaded to watch offline.
  • Larger library – Though lacking in live channels, major OTT apps offer a vast library of on-demand movies, TV shows, documentaries, and other content.
  • Personalization – OTT apps utilize recommendation engines and user profiles to deliver a more customized viewing experience based on the user’s interests and preferences.
  • Flexibility – Users can easily pause or cancel OTT subscriptions when not in use. There are no long-term contracts like cable or satellite TV.
  • Device compatibility – OTT applications are compatible with a wide range of devices from smartphones to smart TVs, game consoles to laptops. Users have more options for how they consume content.
  • Control – OTT users have full control over what they watch when they watch and on which device. There are no channels or programs packed into bundles.


The main advantages of OTT applications over traditional pay TV include lower prices, greater convenience, improved personalization, higher flexibility, compatibility with multiple devices, and more control over viewing options. However, OTT lacks the variety of live TV options that some users demand.


What are the Different Types of OTT Apps?


Over-the-top applications provide various types of audio and video content on streaming media platforms. The most common types of OTT apps are:

  • Video streaming apps– These apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video provide on-demand access to movies, TV shows and other videos. They use algorithms to recommend content to users.
  • Live TV streaming apps– In addition to on-demand videos, apps like YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV offer live streams of TV channels with news, sports and entertainment. However, the channel selection is limited compared to cable TV.
  • Audio streaming apps – Apps like Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora stream a huge library of songs on-demand. Users can create customized playlists and radio stations.
  • Communication apps – Apps like FaceTime, Skype, and WhatsApp allow users to make voice and video calls over the internet as an alternative to phone calls.
  • Gaming apps – Some OTT apps like Steam Link and PlayStation Now stream console-quality video games from the cloud to mobile devices. They eliminate the need to download large game files.
  • Other niche types – There are OTT apps that provide on-demand streaming of news, eBooks, podcasts, meditation content and other specialized media.


The variety of OTT apps continues to grow and diversify as media consumption habits evolve. Different types of apps meet distinct user needs for entertainment, communication, information access and more – all delivered over the internet directly to audiences. The trend points to further fragmentation and specialization in the OTT app marketplace going forward.


Businesses Leveraging From OTT app development


Many types of businesses can benefit from developing OTT applications. Some of the main ones include:

  • Media companies – Traditional media outlets like TV networks, film studios, and news publications can develop OTT apps to distribute their content directly to consumers and build new revenue streams.
  • Independent content creators – Individuals or small teams who produce video, audio, or live content can create niche OTT apps targeting specific interests and audiences. This allows them to monetize and distribute their content directly.
  • Cable/satellite TV providers – By developing OTT apps, these services can offer an online streaming option to complement traditional TV packages and reach younger cord-cutters.
  • Advertisers – OTT applications provide another platform for advertisers to reach large audiences in a more targeted manner. Ads can be placed within apps and be contextually relevant.
  • E-commerce businesses – Some retailers and e-commerce companies are developing OTT apps featuring shopping channels and branded content to engage customers and drive sales.
  • OTT app developers – Companies that already develop mobile apps can leverage their skills to enter the lucrative OTT market and gain expertise in streaming media services.


Various types of businesses from media companies and content creators to advertisers, retailers, OTT app developers can benefit strategically and financially by developing their own OTT applications. The opportunities for new revenue streams, audience reach and competitive advantages are substantial.


Must-Have Features to Include in OTT app development


When developing an over-the-top (OTT) media application, there are several essential features that users have come to expect:


  • Personal profiles – Allow each user to create their own profile tied to viewing history, playlists, and recommendations. This provides a personalized experience.
  • Content search – Make it easy for users to find movies, shows, and videos by typing keywords, titles, cast members, or any other relevant data.
  • Watchlist – Allow users to save content to a list for easy access later. This gives them a way to bookmark movies or shows they want to watch next.
  • Playback controls – Include basic playback controls like play, pause, forward, rewind, and volume that are accessible from any screen.
  • Video player – Develop a high-quality video player that can stream seamlessly in multiple resolutions and bitrates with minimal buffering.
  • Subtitles and captions – Offer the option to display subtitles and closed captions for deaf and hard-of-hearing users.
  • Downloads – Enable users to download selected movies and shows for offline viewing. This allows watching content anywhere, even without Internet access.
  • Parental controls – Provide a way to restrict mature content from child profiles and set password locks for managing settings.
  • In-app payments – Include the ability to securely handle subscription payments through major payment gateways.

Incorporating these essential features will help ensure your OTT application meets users’ basic expectations for a successful media streaming experience.


How to Create OTT App? Step-By-Step Process


Developing an over-the-top (OTT) media streaming application follows a logical step-by-step process:

  1. Define your goals and identify your target audience. Clarify what problem you want to solve or need you to want to fulfill with your app.
  2. Research the OTT market to understand user expectations, technical requirements, and your potential competitors. Benchmark against similar apps.
  3. Create app design documents that specify features, user interface, user stories, and content management needs. Map out how the app will function.
  4. Select the right technology stack for your OTT app. You’ll need a streaming media player, encoding platform, content management system, and other technologies.
  5. Develop the app’s front using tools like React Native, Flutter, or Swift. The UI should be simple, intuitive, and optimized for mobile.
  6. Build the app’s backend to handle user authentication, payments, app data storage, and content distribution. Security is critical.
  7.  Source or create your initial content library of video, audio, and images to populate the app.

By following this process, you’ll develop an OTT app that fulfills users’ core needs while providing a polished, end-to-end streaming media experience.


How Do OTT Platforms Make Money? (Monetization Model)


Over-the-top (OTT) media streaming platforms have several methods for monetizing their services and generating revenue:

  • Subscription fees – This is the primary revenue source for many OTT applications. Users pay a monthly or yearly subscription to access the content library.
  • Advertising – Like traditional TV, OTT platforms can generate income by selling advertising space within their apps and streaming videos. Both pre-roll and mid-roll ads are common.
  • Bandwidth charges – Some OTT providers charge their content partners additional fees for the bandwidth used to stream their video or audio files.
  • Pay-per-view – Some OTT platforms offer individual movies, TV episodes, or live events on a pay-per-view basis where users pay a single fee to access that specific content.
  • ECommerce – Some streaming services sell related products like movie merchandise, music downloads, and audiobooks to generate transaction revenue.
  • Affiliate revenue – OTT companies can earn a commission for referring users to third-party services and products from their platforms.
  • Licensing fees – Traditional media companies license their content to OTT platforms in exchange for upfront fees and/or a share of subscription or ad revenue.

OTT platforms monetize their services through a mix of subscription fees, advertising, bandwidth fees, pay-per-view purchases, eCommerce, affiliate income, content licensing, and producing their own media content. They utilize multiple revenue streams to achieve financial sustainability.


How Much Does OTT app development Cost?


The cost of developing an over-the-top (OTT) streaming media application varies widely based on several factors:

  • Features – More complex features like multiple profiles, offline downloading, 4K playback, and content recommendation engines cost more to develop.
  • Platforms – Developing apps for multiple platforms like iOS, Android, and Smart TVs increases cost compared to a single platform app.
  • Technology – The technologies used like encoding solutions, content management systems, and security features impact development time and cost.
  • Content – Sourcing, managing, and encoding an initial content library requires cost. Larger volumes of content mean higher development expenses.
  • Design – More complex designs with custom animation, transitions, and effects require more OTT app developer hours and resources. Minimal designs are cheaper.
  • Staff – Using in-house OTT app developers costs less than hiring freelancers or an agency. But outsourcing provides more flexibility and speed.
  • Support – Providing ongoing customer/technical support after launch increases the total cost of developing and maintaining the app.
  • Testing – Thorough testing and debugging of app functionality, performance, and security require dedicated resources and testing tools that impact the cost.


OTT app development costs can range from $50,000 to $250,000 or more depending on the complexity of features, number of platforms, content library, design, technologies used, and required support. A well-defined scope and minimal viable product can help contain costs initially.


How Can A3logics Help You With OTT app development?


With over experience, A3logics is well-equipped to deliver high-quality OTT applications that meet your needs. Our services include:

  • Design: We help clarify your OTT app goals and create designs that specify features, user flows, and content requirements. Our designs ensure a seamless user experience.
  • Development: Our expert OTT app developers build fully-functional, responsive streaming media apps for iOS, Android, and other platforms. We utilize the right technologies for each project.
  • Testing: We perform thorough testing at every stage to ensure your app works properly, has high performance, and scales effectively to meet user demand.
  • Technology: We leverage the right technologies for tasks like encoding, transcoding, storage, and delivery of audio/video content within your OTT application.
  • Support: Our dedicated team provides ongoing technical support and assistance after your app launches to ensure success. We’re available to answer questions and fix issues.
  • Within Budget: We work transparently and collaboratively to deliver the specified features for your OTT app in a cost-effective manner that meets your budget.


Contact us today to discuss your OTT app project!

Partner with our team to develop an industry-leading OTT application that exceeds your expectations delights your users and generates value for your business


Key Considerations for OTT app development


Here are the key considerations for OTT app development:

  • Content– Sourcing and managing a library of audio and video that appeals to the target audience and differentiated from competitors.
  • Technology – Choosing the right streaming media player, encoding and transcoding solutions, content delivery network, and security measures.
  • Experience – Developing an intuitive user interface and features that enhance the viewing and sharing of content across devices.
  • Monetization – Determining the business model to generate revenue from the OTT app through subscription, advertising, pay-per-view, or e-commerce.
  • Law – Ensuring compliance with relevant copyright, privacy, and data protection laws that govern streaming media services.
  • Competition – Analyzing competitors’ apps to identify gaps in the market that your OTT app can fill to gain traction.




Developing a successful OTT application requires thoughtful consideration of key factors like content, technology, user experience, business model, legal compliance, and competition. Creating such a streaming media platform is a complex endeavor that demands expertise across multiple domains from app development to content management, technology integration to security, and strategy development to operations.




What are the limitations of the OTT platform?


While OTT platforms provide many benefits, they also face several limitations:

  • Content limitations: Most platforms offer a narrower selection of content compared to cable or satellite TV. They focus mainly on on-demand video rather than comprehensive TV channels.
  • Lack of live TV: Many OTT services lack access to live local TV channels and major events. This limits their ability to fully replace traditional pay TV.
  • Limited device compatibility: Some OTT apps only work on certain platforms or devices, while others have compatibility issues across different systems.
  • Reliability issues: OTT services can suffer from video buffering, audio sync problems, playback errors, and other technical difficulties due to their dependency on users’ Internet connections and networks.
  • Security risks: Like all Internet-connected platforms, OTT applications face risks of data breaches, hacks, malware, and other cyber threats that could compromise users’ data and accounts.
  • Churn risk: OTT providers often face high subscriber turnover due to the ease of signing up and canceling services. This threatens the stability of their revenue model.


How to build OTT apps?


The key steps towards building a successful OTT application involve first defining clear goals and identifying the target audience the app aims to serve. Extensive research into competitors and user expectations also helps establish a solid foundation.

Essential technology components like the platforms, streaming media player, and tools required are then selected to realize the app vision. Careful design of the user interface, features, and content management needs follows.

The app front and backend are developed to deliver an intuitive user experience while securely handling payments, user data, and other operations. An initial library of video, audio, or other media content is also sourced or produced.

Once integrated together, the OTT app undergoes thorough testing and bug fixing before launch. Following the release, the app is marketed and promoted while continuing to gather user feedback and make improvements through routine updates.


What are the factors affecting OTT?


Many factors influence the success and growth of over-the-top applications:

  • Content variety– The breadth and continual refreshing of an OTT platform’s media library affect its appeal and ability to attract and retain users.
  • Pricing – An application’s subscription rates and optional ad tiers must remain competitive within the OTT marketplace to gain customers.
  • User experience – The intuitiveness of an OTT app’s features, search, recommendations and player controls impacts user satisfaction and engagement.
  • Technology – An app’s performance, compatibility across devices, and ability to securely stream media content reliably impact the user experience.
  • Competition – The strategies and offerings of similar OTT applications put pressure on platforms to innovate, differentiate and provide value.

Multiple internal and external factors – ranging from content to technology, pricing to regulations – interact dynamically to determine an OTT application’s growth trajectory over time.


What types of content are on OTT?


Over-the-top streaming media services deliver many different types of audio and video to satisfy the diverse interests of users. Common forms of content on OTT platforms include:

  • Movies – Both recently released films and classic movies are available on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.
  • TV shows – Both current episodic programming and entire back catalogs of scripted and unscripted shows appear on major OTT services.
  • Music – Audio streaming applications like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora offer access to tens of millions of individual songs spanning all genres.
  • Podcasts – A growing selection of on-demand podcasts covering topics from news to comedy to spirituality are accessible through OTT apps.
  • Audiobooks – Services such as Audible, Storytel, and Scribd provide extensive libraries of audiobook titles encompassing all major genres of fiction and nonfiction.

Over-the-top platforms deliver a wide variety of audio and video media types to customers through subscriptions that unify “television-like” entertainment with on-demand music, podcasts, audiobooks, and children’s offerings.