How Much Does It Cost to Make an App Like Periscope
Different live streaming services have long been used for custom broadcasts of various events, for people really like to watch concerts, rallies, sports competitions, social occasions of all sorts, even if they cannot visit these activities in person. Therefore, the world's giants continue to create websites and applications for live video streaming. For example, a few years ago, Twitter released an app which a lot of Western IT editions have already called the future of citizen journalism.
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. We can tell you how to make an app like Periscope, and how much it will cost.
Read our article to find out all the details.
- The million-dollar idea
- What is Periscope?
- Periscope's Competitors
- User Flow of Periscope
- Monetization system
- Ways to save money in the development process
- What factors determine development expenses?
- Total development timeline
The idea behind Periscope is to let 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 liked this video or leave a comment via Twitter. Today Periscope allows users to save and re-share their streams, moreover, one can stream video even not having the Twitter account.
We at Agilie have our own experience of building a video streaming app called b.live. It is very similar to Periscope in a functional sense. 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.
The Periscope application belongs to the owners of the world famous Twitter, and it has been created quite recently, in 2015. At the moment, more than a dozen million people all over the world have become active users of this service, and the number of those who visit Periscope on a daily basis is about one and a half million. The system works on all popular modern devices: iOS, Android, Windows Phone.
Simply put, Periscope is a video streaming service that allows users to broadcast live what is happening to them right now, at this very moment. People who dreamed of becoming professional reporters can take advantage of this great opportunity to prove themselves.
You can broadcast anything you want; for instance, you can talk about events, chat in real time with your subscribers, play games, sing songs, share problems… By the way, a lot of world-famous celebrities already have their own channels on Periscope.
Since these live video streaming services are very popular among users, Periscope has its competitors - it's only natural! And your intention to make an app like Periscope makes them your competitors too.
Let's take a short look at these applications.
This service is quite popular and belongs to the number of important competitors of Periscope. It allows you to share the broadcast with your followers, but its record cannot be saved (and, therefore, it cannot be watched later). So if your subscribers don't want to miss your going on the air, they have to setup push notifications.
Personal broadcasts are not supported too: anyone can view your online events.
This video streaming application is also in demand, a lot of people take advantage of it when broadcasting all kinds of events they witness (for example, they used it to show clashes and incidents in the UK and Paris they saw). Users can subscribe to a paid subscription (from $ 99 per month) which allows customizing the player interface and inserting personal ads.
This is one of the first services for live video streaming. Now even large Western TV companies use Livestream for their business purposes. It supports broadcasts with GoPro and offers a set of effects and transitions between episodes of broadcasts. Monthly, more than 40 million users take advantage of this app.
This easy-to-use application allows starting the broadcast in just one touch. To register, one only needs to have an FB/Twitter account. The program automatically adjusts the bitrate for the speed of one's connection, saves the broadcasts on its server and gives the possibility to configure push notifications.
This is a good service giving the user a huge space for storing broadcasts (20,000 minutes in the free version). There is a feature of personal broadcasts (which will be available only to the audience that you share links with), you can also connect GoPro. The program adheres to the policy of No Ads.
Video hosting from Google supports live broadcasts for several years, but this Internet giant decided to enter the mobile live streaming market not so long ago. YouTube apps can be especially interesting to popular bloggers with a large subscriber base because live video streaming on YouTube allows earning through advertising, and quite well! Among main features, we can name a possibility to create private broadcasts (available only through a link) and save all the records made so that one can later process and publish them.
As for Periscope, many people call it the "Meerkat's killer". Developers had taken into account all claims of users to this competitor and worked on the security problem. First of all, the application allows saving broadcasts (records are available during 24 hours). Besides which, there is a possibility to manually delete these records and create private broadcasts that only certain subscribers can see. Also, there is a general rating (“most loved”), which is formed by the number of received likes. No wonder that Periscope is so much in demand! So you are right that you want to know how much it costs to make an app like Periscope, and how to develop this service as efficiently as possible.
- Take care of your users’ data security;
- Give users a maximum of opportunities including the feature of saving and processing broadcasts.
- Think about how to allow users to earn money on advertising, as the owners of YouTube do. That's why YouTube is so popular
- Pay proper attention to the app interface, it should be intuitive and user-friendly.
In short, make your service as loyal to the user and his needs as possible.
And now let's see how Periscope has solved the problem of interaction with its users.
Using Periscope involves 2 main areas:
- Showing live and recorded video. For example, if you want to share the experience of the repairs done, you can start broadcasting in Periscope.
- View the video. The feature is interesting for those who prefer unedited streaming videos. In addition, you can contact the author right at the time of the broadcast.
In order to download and run the application, the user is asked to perform three simple steps:
- Download the Periscope app from iTunes or Google Play. By the way, this application is free to use.
- Log in to the Periscope application using one of the following methods:
- Registration via Twitter. In order to log in to Periscope through this social network, you need to have your account in it. A special advantage of this option is that you can immediately share news about the beginning of your broadcast with your Twitter subscribers.
- Registration with a phone number. This action is a bit more complicated, but it has relevance too. You enter your phone number and receive an SMS with a confirmation code. After the code has been entered, you can open your Periscope profile.
- Start using! In fact, Periscope offers us such options as:
- The list of all online broadcasts in the world. For this purpose, a special map has been developed, on which the time range of the created streaming videos is being reflected. Here you can observe everything that happens all over the world or choose a certain country. In addition, a user's wish to view only his region or city can easily be arranged by limiting the parameters.
- Video streaming feature. A user can start a live broadcast at any convenient moment - for example, if he sees something interesting and worthy of attention.
- Broadcasts of the people you are subscribed to. There are thought-out settings that help you to timely view broadcasts of people who you are subscribed to.
Search for people. The application allows choosing the most popular app users, the interest in whom is shown by many other Periscope participants.
Of course, the question "How much does It cost to make an app like Periscope?" remains paramount, but before proceeding to it, we will consider one more important issue…
In this case, it's about how to make money using a live video streaming app, if you are not its user, but the owner. Which video streaming business model to choose?
We suggest that you consider a rather simple scheme of earnings, namely, the Freemium model.
You probably know what it is about, but, just in case, we'll explain to you how to apply it in practice anyway.
So, you should develop a video streaming application in two versions:
- A simplified free version. It includes all the significant and most important features and equipped with ads (by the way, in-app advertising is also a good source of income).
- A paid version. We also recommend that you build a live streaming application with an expanded paid functionality and without advertising. By paying a subscription, a user not only gets the opportunity to enjoy your service without annoying ads but also accesses exclusive features.
And, of course, you can always offer built-in purchases.
Surely you are interested in the question of whether you can save while creating a live video streaming application. Fortunately, yes, it is quite possible.
#1. 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.
In our opinion, this is a great way to save money.
#2. Choosing a development company
The cost to make a video streaming application depends on the rate of the hired company. And this rate, in turn, is influenced by the developers' location.
So, how much money do developers from different countries ask for their services?
- US: $ 100-150 per hour (and more)
- UK: about £ 100-180 per hour
- Western Europe: 80 -150 € per hour
- Eastern Europe: $ 20-70 per hour
- Ukraine: about 30-50 $ per hour
- India: $ 10-30 per hour
If you want to build a live streaming app of high quality, but you have a limited budget, choose experts from Ukraine. They are high-skilled and have moderate rates.
But before we analyze how much it costs 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. They are:
- The team
- App features
- Technology Stack
- Devices and OS compatibility
- Post-release expenses
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 about 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 on 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:
- The data server is responsible for user data like authentication, contacts, history, and comments.
- 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 watching 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. Maybe, it is wiser to add it later.
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.
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 the 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 on 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. Wanna know more? Or interested how much it would cost to develop a live video streaming app like Periscope at Agilie? Contact us, and we’ll provide you with all information you need!