You have a weekend off and you slip into your cozy couch and think that you are finally going to start working out today, but then you look at the TV in front of you and fire Netflix, and the next thing you know, you have binged for 8 long hours and the weekend is nearly over. Does that sound familiar? And does that happen every week? Well, I don’t know about you, but definitely, that is my typical weekend. But then suddenly one day it struck me, what if I wanted to have my own Netflix. What if I brought another platform like that and then in place of binging on Netflix myself, I leave it up to you to binge on my platform. Sounds exciting right? Well, as exciting as it might sound, it’s way more than the idea. And a major factor in that is the technology that goes behind. But that is where this blog comes in. Sit back and relax, as we together will find out, how to OTT!
📺 But what is OTT?
While it means “Over-The-Top”, it might not be very clear what it signifies. In very simple words, it is the technology that empowers you to enjoy the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and what have you. So if you are thinking about starting your own service like Netflix, what basically you are talking about is building your own OTT service. So let’s do exactly that, shall we?
🎬 Where to start ?
Well, before the blog starts becoming all technical, what we need to understand is that an OTT service today needs to be available on a variety of platforms, and to name just a few, we have Apple TV, Android TV, LGTV Web OS, Samsung TV Tizen and of-course personal devices like phones, tablets & laptops. And while that might sound like a hand-full, one can never go wrong with the saying-
“One step at a time”
So lets take the 1st step and dive deep into how to build the frontend of an OTT platform.
📱 Building the Client-Side / Frontend
So, going back to the headline of this blog, “Empowering your OTT platform with likes of Netflix”, what actually empowers the frontend of Netflix? And the answer is React.js. And the immediate next question is “What is React.js ?”. And the answer is, it is a frontend library built by the folks at Facebook. But the story doesn’t end here. While React.js is THE solution when we talk about an OTT service, just like I have mentioned earlier, we need to take care of many different platforms, like the Web, TVs, Phones, etc. But don’t worry, lets together take a look at how React.js applies to all these different platforms -
1. The Web
What does really “the web” mean? Well, in today’s modern-day, the fastest way to give consumers access to a service is by making the service available via “the web”. Regardless of the device, just a simple browser and access to the internet is all one needs to access the service. And React.js alone takes care of that frontend wise. And additionally, React.js covers a wide array of platforms like phones, tablets, laptops, and even Smart TVs that support access to the internet and a browser. But React.js has a lot more to offer under the hood. And while the web version could cover a big array of platforms, we can still build native solutions using React.js, so let’s see how that really works.
2. Phones & Tablets
A major share of phones & tablet platforms revolves around the offerings of Android & iOS/iPadOS devices. And the good news is that we can use React Native, which is a version of React.js, that enables the development of native apps while sharing the same codebase across many platforms. And just like that React.js again saved the day.
3. Smart TVs
Now the main motive behind starting an OTT service is to make your platform available in modern Smart TVs and to be frank, there is a big array of platforms with their own OS that have different development cycles. But again, React.js is here to the rescue. With the power of React.js & React Native, it is easier than ever to build for most of the platforms, like Apple TV, Android TV, LGTV & Samsung TV. So let’s take a look at how exactly we can achieve this -
Using React Native
React Native is a very powerful tool that covers the likes of Android TV & Apple TV which can share the same code base.
While Android TV and Apple TV have a very straight foreword approach, LGTV and Samsung TV do not. LGTV runs on WebOS and Samsung TV runs on TizenOS which is their own solution for their Smart TVs. And while it might be surprising to many, we do have a solution that enables us to use the same codebase with very minimal tweaks to make Native Apps for both platforms. And that is made possible by the folks at LG, who developed a framework called Enact which is built on top of React.js. And just like that, React.js even covers LGTV & Samsung TV.
So by now, you definitely have grasped the idea that getting to know the React.js library is a good place to get started. And surely will take you one step closer to your dream of starting your own OTT service and maybe finally start that work-out that you have been thinking about 😛.
Written By -
Arunabh Arjun www.arunabharjun.com