Creating a Video on Demand Platform on a Budget
Imagine a curated, top-end cooking site featuring the crème de la crème of recipes, hand-picked from the best chefs across the globe. The recipes would be showcased in expertly crafted high-definition videos and put out for home cooks to draw inspiration from. Amazingly, this isn’t a figment of anybody’s imagination; it’s a real brand, and it’s called Panna.
Panna has taken a leaf out of Netflix’s book, styling their site as a Video on Demand (VOD) website for gourmet recipes. Like Netflix, it offers a 30-day trial, followed by an annual subscription fee. And it is one of the many niche VOD sites that has capitalised on the explosion in worldwide video consumption.
A business model planted in VOD can be applied across industries. Videos are incredible communication tools and can supersede other forms of communication, because they are personal and powerful. Video is gradually becoming a central node of the audio-visual entertainment web, and an advantageous tool for advertisers to layer advertising and target relevant audiences. YouTube recently announced that its viewership through the television set had doubled in the last year, overtaking growth on handsets and devices.
There are plenty of things you could do with VOD. A collection of videos on dance or music, workouts and fitness, or travel and discovery. The internet is your oyster. If you plan to create a VOD website, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s a guide we’ve put together to get you started.
Assess the Niche
If it’s food you’re interested in, there are myriad VOD websites on the internet already that may offer something similar. And carving a niche for yourself may prove difficult, futile and unnecessary. Buzzfeed Tasty, for instance, features short, attractive videos showing easy, yet creative recipes, and the website reaches 500 million people per month, powering the Buzzfeed engine. If you’re out to do something similar, you might want to think of a differentiated product. Perhaps you could feature only quick Asian recipes, or exclusively dessert recipes.
We mentioned Panna earlier, which is a high-end recipe platform. It’s unique, and inspires novelty, because the market is largely untapped. There isn’t currently a recipe website that you can draw video gourmet recipes from, to make in your kitchen. Panna’s founder, David Ellner, felt that there was a market for television-like content on mobile handsets, and he set out to fulfil it. The Panna app has already been downloaded more than 1 million times, and has folded in several investment rounds by the likes of A+E Networks, Anthem Ventures, Lerer Ventures, Crosslink Ventures, Maveron and Launchpad LA.
When you evaluate your niche, explore your scope and appraise your competition. It’s great to model an idea around a successful website, but make sure that you have something different to offer users. Your site should stand out.
Sketch Out a Business Plan
There are three profitable ways that you can monetise your business:
- Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD): TVOD entails a transaction for every piece of content downloaded by a user. TVOD comes in two types: Electronic Sell Through (EST) and Download to Rent (DTR). In an EST format, a user buys digital content on the internet, for unlimited viewing; essentially an addition to the home video market. DTR, on the other hand, means that a user rents content on the internet, for a limited period.
- Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD): Think Netflix, where users pay a fixed sum every month, and an entire library of content is available to them.
- Advertisement-supported Video on Demand (AVOD): If you’re thinking YouTube, you’re bang on. AVOD allows users to stream content for free, but slips in advertisements at strategic intervals along the film. AVOD offers a part of the ad revenue to the broadcaster, as an incentive.
When you decide on your business plan, you needn’t restrict your monetisation model to one of these three methods. You could use a hybrid model by integrating two or even all of them. All three strategies could work on tandem, and will likely fetch you more money this way!
Consider your Investment
Your main investment will be your technology. If you were to build a VOD platform yourself, right from writing the code, to managing the design, you’d probably spend about three months and US $10,000. You’d need your own video streaming server, software licenses, your own tech team and a whole lot of patience. Instead, you could use a turnkey solution called Streamhash. This would allow you to kick-start your website within 2 days. It would also cut your tech cost by 20%, making it an economical alternative.
Evaluate Your Content Deals and Partnerships
If your content is provided by other users, you need to ensure that your library is ready and raring to go. You could do this by enticing users with a launch incentive. Upload 10 videos, and earn twice the amount for every ad. Refer another user, get that user to upload 10 videos, and earn three times the amount for every ad, perhaps. Keep the offer open for two months before the launch, and you’ll see traction. Your users will multiply. It’s important to curate your platform meticulously in the pre-launch phase. After all, your success depends on how good your content is.
Decide on Your Technology
Your VOD platform pivots on your technology, so ensure that you make an informed decision. Consider Netflix as an example. Netflix has been ahead of the curve in terms of technology. It has used public clouds like ec2 and AWS and employed NoSQL-based persistence solutions like CAP Theorem. The Netflix Cloud Platform serves as the layer of services, tools, frameworks and technologies that sit atop ec2/AWS. The trouble is, while the technology is brilliant, it is extremely costly.
Streamhash allows you to reap the same results in a fraction of the cost. Not only are its features exceptional, but its responsive design will offer you a dreamy Netflix-like feel. The Streamhash web platform along with the admin dashboard are fashioned to captivate users regardless of their device or screen size.
Streamhash flaunts an arsenal of excellent themes, that users can apply to lend a unique appearance to their app. The product offers an inbuilt SEO-optimisation feature, a handy admin panel, and a variety of options to upload a video onto your site. Also, there are two separate servers that support your site: a Nginx one for video streaming, and an Apache one for web pages. Streamhash’s stand-out turnkey video sharing script will probably impress you the most. The script enables users to slot videos into various categories in a matter of seconds.
Streamhash is backed by Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) technology. RTMP is a free, open source extension module that rests on the Nginx web server. There are other technologies, like Wowza Streaming Engine and Adobe Flash Media Server, that offer you the same features as RTMP, but these are expensive, and rather unrequired. RTMP is an adaptable, affordable platform.
Here’s one more reason to swing you in favour of RTMP: it delivers a lower latency, which means that if your viewers don’t have the best bandwidth, your content will still stream successfully. A lower latency also enables real-time interactions with your viewers, and minimises buffering.
Keep this guide handy as you take your first step towards setting up your very own VOD platform. With the right strategy and content, there’s a good chance that luck will be on your side.