How Much Does It Cost to Make an App Like Periscope
After the launch in March 2015, a Twitter-acquired live streaming app Periscope has instantly gained a crazy popularity among Twitter users, crushing its major competitor, Meerkat, and reaching 10-million accounts mark over the course of 4 months. No wonder that now many want to follow their success.
The idea behind Periscope is letting people broadcast live footage to any of their Twitter or Periscope followers via a mobile device. Viewers can tap on screen sending a “heart” to show they like a broadcaster’s video or leave a comment via Twitter. By now, Periscope allows users to save and re-share their streams and doesn’t even require a Twitter account to stream video at all.
We at Agilie have our own experience of building a video streaming app. It’s called b.live and functionally it’s very close to Periscope. In this article, we’re going to use both Periscope’s and our own case to illustrate the live video streaming app development price breakdown.
But before we analyze how much does it cost to develop a live video streaming app like Periscope, let’s first outline the main factors that influence the project development time and, therefore, its total cost. That are:
- The team
- App features
- Technology stack
- Devices and OS compatibility
- Post-release expenses
A full-fledged product or an MVP?
Before you decide on your product’s budget, note that it’s not necessary to implement all features you have planned right in the release version of the app. First, some features will be unnecessary or even useless on the early stages of your app’s lifetime; second, postponing the implementation of secondary features will save you time and resources that may be used for polishing the main functionality.
Thus, if you want to build an app in a short term and watch how your target audience will react to it, consider developing an MVP (minimum viable product) first and constantly update the app in collaboration with the community of users.
According to Sara Hadar, a software engineer at Twitter, the Periscope Android team consisted of three app engineers, one video engineer, and one designer. That’s not counting management and QA staff. However, Periscope’s development was backed by considerable funding from investors. We believe that an App like Periscope can be made for the lesser price with the smaller team - you’ll just need more time to finish it.
Just make sure you have the following guys onboard.
Designers. Designer’s work is more than just drawing and coloring interfaces - it’s outlining all user actions within an app. In the case of video streaming apps like Periscope, a designer must ensure user engagement by convenient broadcasts browsing, non-distracting chat, and engaging animations.
iOS and Android developers. While the rest of the team are ubiquitous for the whole development process, you’ll need two separate teams of developers, each consisting of professionals in their specific platforms.
Even if you start your project as an MVP for only one platform, be ready to hire a full-stacked team of developers to port it to another.
Backend developers. Live video streaming relies heavily on the server-side capabilities. Even if you plan to use an MBaaS platform, you’ll still need to stack your team with the backend developers to organize its work.
Generally, the server-side scope is split into two parts:
1) The data server is responsible for user data like authentication, contacts, history and comments.
2) The technical server handles the video streams processing, prepares links, and connects the broadcaster with the viewers.
Also, as any app with social elements, a live video streaming app needs an admin panel to manage and moderate users. This element of the app is also backend developers’ responsibility.
QA specialists. At Agilie, we eradicate all appearing bugs continuously, right over the course of the development process. We suggest you using the same practice: having a QA specialist to control the product’s quality on the development stage will save you a lot of time and money post-release.
Project manager. Throughout the product development process, a project manager organizes all development activities and facilitate communication between all participants of the process.
Besides that, on the project planning stage, a PM is working on the requirements, setting up the informational environment and communication channels. On the pre-release stage, the PM’s activities include finalizing all tasks, submitting the app to the app store, and setting up future marketing objectives.
Main features and the technology behind them
All the features you want to implement in or integrate with your live streaming app rely on a certain technology stack consisting of third-party APIs and services.
For video playback on Android devices, Periscope used ExoPlayer adding a custom RTMP support for both broadcasting and playback (originally, ExoPlayer didn’t support the RTMP protocol).
Periscope also lets users manipulate the video stream applying various filters to it. In b.live, we have implemented a similar feature using the VideoCore library that enables to overlay the video stream with Instagram-like filters and drawings.
Social networks integration
Acquired by Twitter, Periscope is seamlessly integrated with this social network and originally required a Twitter account to work. But it doesn’t mean you can’t integrate your own Periscope-like streaming app with other popular social networks. The choice, however, depends on your target audience only.
The b.live app, which targets the widest range of people, allows users sharing their streams live via YouTube and Facebook feed simultaneously. Currently, we work on integrations with Facebook Live and Twitter and will add them in further updates.
Periscope lets users leave comments while they watch streams. This social feature is important for user engagement, so it’s better to implement it early on.
Periscope uses PubNub Data Stream Network for live messaging and push notifications. This solution allows to send big amounts of data and is very undemanding for device battery.
In b.live, we have implemented a three-mode chat that allows stream viewers: 1) read comments over the course of a broadcast, 2) hide the chat panel, and 3) browse chat history. If a stream is cluttered with distracting comments, a user can just “mute” it and read the comments anytime later.
Periscope is integrated with Google Maps service utilizing it for a broadcast location sharing feature. Broadcasters can share their current position on a map, so nearby viewers could find them easily. It’s a neat feature, but if you’re building an MVP, geolocation can wait until post-release updates.
Storing streams on the server for further rewatching requires considerable backend capabilities. Periscope preserves streams on their servers only for 24 hours, which is still long considering the total amount of the app users. As an effective alternative to that, you can enable users to save broadcasts on their devices.
Donations and monetization
The possibility to donate to streamers is not presented in Periscope but is popular in other live video streaming solutions. Donations attract more streamers that produce quality content which, in its turn, attracts more viewers. Also, you can monetize your live streaming app charging a small fee for each donation.
Implementing this feature requires integration of payment getaway, so think twice whether you need to have it at launch, or is it wiser to add it later.
b.live live video streaming app by Agilie
Device and OS compatibility
Most of the apps are being launched for iOS and Android platforms simultaneously. If you’re up to this idea, we at Agilie highly recommend avoiding cross-platform solutions and build native apps for both iOS and Android platforms. This will help you avoid compatibility problems in the future, thus, saving both your time and money.
Note that Apple devices are not as diversified as the Android-powered ones. This means iOS app development will require somewhat less time for UI/UX design, development, and quality assurance. So if you want to launch your live streaming app as an MVP, you can safely consider developing an iOS version first, and launch your app for Android later.
Total development timeline
Let’s now calculate the average timeline of development and the total cost of a video streaming app like Periscope.
Note that here, we take the average hourly rate charged by app development firms around the world. Also, keep in mind the fact that Android app will require some additional hours to be adjusted to work best on all required devices.
Here we go.
In our experience, approving a product design requires several rounds of discussions preceded by a thorough planning and sketching. It also makes sense to set up initial A/B testing and share the design assets with focus groups.
All in all, the design team needs at least one month to come up with the product design, including the complete user flow and UI design for both iOS and Android versions of the app. The total cost here will vary between $5 000 and $10 000.
Developing an MVP version of an app like Periscope will require at least four skilled iOS developers and from 4 up to 6 months of work. The expenses, in this case, start from $20 000.
The same figures work for Android version of an app, except it may require a little bit more time than the iOS version. Thus, the cost of iOS development activities starts at $20 000 in average.
Note that developing a native Android app using Java or Kotlin programming languages is the best preferable approach that will save you from unwanted expenditures on the post-release stage. We can’t guarantee the same with a cross-platform solution, however.
Depending on features for both data and technical servers, the backend development process will require up to three developers for each server and up to 3 months of work. The cost here starts at $25 000.
Due to complex user flow and modern technologies that a live video streaming app like Periscope requires, the QA activities will involve at least two quality assurance engineers as full-time team members for 3 months. The cost of this part starts from $24 000.
Based on our estimates, the cost of project management activities for an app with such level of complexity starts from $10 000 according to the world’s average rates.
Total time of development
Having calculated the figures above, we’d say that the minimal calendar terms for the whole project development process - from the initial planning to the release is at least 4 months of work performed by the dedicated team of professionals working in collaboration.
The total average cost of developing an app like Periscope starts at $100 000, which is pretty convenient even for startups on initial funding stage.
The app development cost is not limited to the development process only. There are several other areas of expenditure you should never forget about.
The first is app marketing. Actually, you should start your marketing campaign even before the app is launched. A video streaming app users are the ones who generate content for your app, so make sure you have a viable user base at launch.
The more your user base grow, the more funds you’ll have to spend on server maintenance since you’ll need greater backend capabilities to deal with all those video streams.
And, finally, never abandon your app's support by regularly updating it and fixing bugs. It’s more effective when you have someone from the original development team to manage the support activities.
Now you have a clearer picture of how to estimate the budget of your future app. Want to know more? Or interested how much would it cost to develop a live video streaming app like Periscope at Agilie? Contact us, and we’ll provide you with all information you need!