How to Create Your Own OTT Platform: A Step-by-Step Guide

By Aarushi Singh, Peri Elmokadem, Joe Horowitz and Justin Rhodes
10 Min Read
Asian woman and Little girl practicing yoga from yoga online course via smart TV at home

The thought of launching your own OTT platform can be both thrilling and overwhelming. 

It’s perfectly normal to have questions like:

  • What are the initial and ongoing costs of setting up an OTT platform?
  • What technical requirements and infrastructure do I need?
  • How do I acquire and license content for my platform?
  • What are the best monetization strategies (subscriptions, ads, pay-per-view, etc.) for my OTT platform?
  • How do I ensure my platform is user-friendly and offers a seamless experience across devices?

You’re not alone; many people looking to launch their OTT platforms share these questions. 

The good news is that you don’t need to be a tech wizard to start an OTT platform or have a large budget to hire an agency to do it for you. Many dedicated platforms come with built-in features for video content creators, making launching an OTT platform easier than ever. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through all the steps required to create an OTT platform. 

How launching an OTT platform can transform your reach

Skip to the steps

No matter what niche you’re in — fitness, yoga, health, education, faith — having an OTT app has plenty of upsides. 

  • Reach a global audience, making content accessible anytime, anywhere.
  • Offer a seamless, professional user experience to your audience
  • Get multiple monetization options, from subscriptions to pay-per-view, and generate consistent revenue
  • Improve user interaction and retention with live streaming, on-demand videos, and community engagement tools 

Here are some interesting stories from our creators who launched their OTT platforms: 17 Successful OTT Service Examples to Inspire You


abundance+ ott app
Abundance+ OTT app

Take Justin Rhodes, founder of Abundance+, for example. In 2016, he started his YouTube channel and published thousands of hours worth of homesteading videos sharing his stories. Like any other creator, he wanted to deliver a more exclusive, high-quality engaging experience for his audience — which wasn’t quite attainable on YouTube alone. 

Justin Rhodes

I had no idea what the OTT apps would do because it’s a whole other level. It’s a whole other investment to go beyond just the website to the OTT apps. It was one of those things where I had a sense that it would do well. I predicted that’s where the future is going with entertainment and education. I just had to gamble with an educated guess and say, ‘Let’s do it.’

Justin Rhodes | Abundance+
Founder at Abundance Plus

Justin soon launched his OTT streaming apps with Uscreen to create a Netflix-style membership experience. Today, the Abundance+ app is on six different devices, including iOS, Android, and TV. Along with building a thriving community for his members, Justin has also increased his revenue from $30,000 to over $130,000+ a month with the Abundance+ launch with Uscreen. 

Read the full story here

In the lab+ 

in the lab mobile app
In The Lab+ mobile app

In the Lab’s journey from a YouTube channel to an OTT platform is quite unique. Here’s why: it’s inspired by the idea of dedicating 10,000 hours to mastering a skill, symbolizing the idea of being “in the lab” to achieve excellence in your chosen field. Two years after materializing this idea into a YouTube channel, Navin Ramharak and Devin Williams launched their own membership platform, which is now known as In the Lab+. 

As of 2024, In the Lab has 661,000 subscribers on YouTube, 157,000 followers on Instagram, and 1,000+ active subscribers in their membership. The “In the Lab+” mobile apps (Android and iOS) account for nearly 79% of their membership’s total viewing hours and watch time, and they have almost doubled their viewer count in the past year alone.

Read the full story here

Navin Ramharak Founder of In the Lab+

Having the mobile app to be fully functional on iPhone and Android within a short amount of time was huge for us. Your turnaround time was excellent. You guys kept on updating us and in the past we had issues where OTT apps would get broken with updates and basically, too many glitches.

Navin Ramharak | InTheLab+
Co-Founder of In The Lab+

If you’re inspired by their success and ready to start your own journey, the next step is understanding how to start an OTT platform. Let’s dive into the essential steps to get you started. 

Launch your own OTT platform in 8 steps

Step 1: Understanding OTT platforms

what is an ott platform

First things first, what exactly is an OTT platform

Simply put, an OTT platform delivers video content directly to viewers via the internet, bypassing traditional cable and satellite TV. Think Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu – these are the big players, but there’s plenty of room for niche content creators like you. 

Key features of a successful OTT platform:

  • User-friendly interface: Ensure your platform is easy to navigate. Viewers should find content quickly and effortlessly.
  • High-quality streaming: Invest in good infrastructure to provide smooth, buffer-free viewing experiences.
  • Multi-device compatibility: Your audience should be able to watch your content on any device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or smart TV.
  • Personalization: Offer personalized recommendations to keep viewers engaged.
  • Secure payment gateways: Make it easy and safe for your audience to subscribe or make one-time payments.

Step 2: Market research and planning

Before you dive into how to start an OTT platform, some groundwork is essential. Here’s how to get started:

Identify Your Target Audience

Who are you creating content for? Understanding your audience’s preferences will help shape your content strategy. For example, Nicole Wilde focuses on helping yogis deepen their practice through her community-oriented membership platform, Collective Kula, carving out a niche market that’s underserved by mainstream platforms.

Here’s a sneak peek from her membership:

collective kula video library
collective kula video library

Look at what other OTT platforms are doing – both the giants and the niche players. Analyze their strengths and weaknesses, and identify opportunities for differentiation. This can help you find your unique selling point.

Set Clear Goals and Objectives

What do you want to achieve with your OTT platform? Whether it’s building a loyal community, generating a steady revenue stream, or establishing yourself as a thought leader, having clear goals will guide your strategy.

Choose the Right Niche

Focusing on a specific niche can help you stand out. For instance, platforms like Filmmakers Academy cater to aspiring filmmakers by offering tutorials and workshops. 

filmmakers academy ott app
Filmmakers Academy OTT app

Step 3: Identify the “must-have” features of your OTT Platform

The most common reasons why video content creators decide to start an OTT platform are because they want to:

Without the right features built into your OTT platform, you risk directly impacting your member viewing experience and retention, which in turn, would impact your revenue. 

Take, for example, Brooke Cates, founder of Studio Bloom. One of Brooke’s main goals was to make her membership app easily accessible for her members. To do this, she needed to organize her extensive video content library of over 600 classes for easy navigation.

She moved to Uscreen to develop six mobile and TV apps: iOS, Android, tvOS/Apple, Android TV, Roku, and Fire TV, and also launched an Apple Watch fitness tracker app.

studio bloom mobile apps
Studio Bloom mobile apps

Now, with the Studio Bloom app available on multiple platforms, members can easily access training programs, meditations, and challenges on any device. They can also interact with guest speakers, coaches, and other members in the community forum.

Read how Brooke runs a $1M annual revenue membership platform

There are plenty of features you could build into your OTT service, but more isn’t always better. Be intentional about each feature you include to ensure it enhances the user experience and meets the needs of your audience. 

Focus on quality and functionality over quantity to create a seamless and engaging platform.

Out of all the features, here are some must-haves you should consider for your OTT streaming platform: 

  • User-friendly interface: Your OTT service should have an easy-to-use interface so your viewers can easily navigate between different videos, content libraries, and other features without confusion​.
  • High-quality streaming: It should offer reliable video streaming service with minimal buffering and high-definition video content quality to ensure a smooth viewing experience​.
  • Multi-device support: Your OTT streaming platform must be accessible across various devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and desktop computers, allowing viewers to watch content on their preferred devices. 
  • Personalization and recommendations: To keep viewers engaged, the platform should provide personalized content suggestions based on user preferences and viewing history​.
  • Secure payment gateways: It should offer secure and diverse payment options for subscriptions and purchases, ensuring the safety of user transactions​.
  • Live Streaming: It should have the ability to stream live events smoothly with real-time interaction features like live chat to enhance viewer engagement.
  • Offline Viewing: Offering an option for users to download content and watch it offline is a valuable feature, especially for users with limited internet access.

Step 4: Content Acquisition and Licensing

Creating original content is crucial for standing out. High-quality, unique shows or videos can make your platform a must-visit. Think about how Disney+ drew in viewers with “The Mandalorian.” Investing in original content can help you build a dedicated audience that loves what you offer.

Here’s what to consider:

  • Create original content: Original content sets you apart from competitors. Investing in high-quality production can make your platform the go-to place for unique content. Platforms like Disney+ thrive on exclusive content, like The Mandalorian.
  • Acquire licensed content: In addition to original content, acquiring rights to popular shows or movies can attract a broader audience. Negotiate content licenses that align with your brand and audience interests.
  • Diverse content offerings: Ensure a mix of content that appeals to various segments of your audience. This could include live video streaming services, on-demand videos, and even user-generated content.
  • Manage content rights and royalties: Use Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies to protect your content from piracy and unauthorized access. Ensure clear agreements on royalties to avoid legal complications. 

Step 5: Choose a tailored OTT platform provider

This step can make or break your entire OTT platform development process — and no, this isn’t an exaggeration. 

We often see creators’s growth being held back solely because they’re hosting their OTT services on a platform that’s not entirely tailored to their needs. For instance, when Navin Ramharak, Co-founder of In the lab+ was building his membership, he researched the top membership platforms and decided to go with a popular brand. In theory, it should’ve worked perfectly. 

But once he started using the platform, reality set in. It lacked many essential features needed for a successful membership business, such as a community tab, content organization tools, and pricing tools.

He found the platform’s backend frustrating and difficult to manage.

Navin Ramharak Founder of In the Lab+

The platform didn’t have many of the basic features we needed. Then I discovered Uscreen, which had all those essential features. I realized that while the popular platform was bigger, OTT was a new focus for them. Uscreen, on the other hand, was dedicated to OTT, saying ‘This is what we do!’ That clarity and focus made me realize Uscreen was what I needed for my membership business.

Navin Ramharak
Co-founder, In the Lab+

Navin shared his entire experience of migrating from his earlier platform to Uscreen and it uncovers a lot of critical information that may help you choose a better, more tailored platform. 

in the lab ott app
in the lab+ OTT app

Another important thing is that often creators only look at OTT platform providers from a single perspective — either as a viewer or as the owner. In reality, you need to find a platform that caters to both your members’ and your own needs as the OTT service owner. 

We already talked about the must-have features you should have in your OTT streaming platform. Here are the non-negotiable features your OTT provider must offer you, as the creator: 

  • Customizable branded apps: You can launch fully branded mobile and TV apps across multiple devices, including iOS, Android, Roku, and Apple TV, ensuring your content is accessible everywhere under your brand.
  • Video streaming quality: It should offer high-definition video streaming services with minimal buffering, providing your audience with a seamless and enjoyable viewing experience.
  • Monetization options: You should have access to multiple revenue streams such as subscriptions, pay-per-view, and bundles, allowing you to generate consistent income from your content.
  • Community features: It must have community tools that help you build, run, and scale your community. Think of the ability to have user-generated videos, social profiles, community challenges, public and private channels, and even push notifications.
  • Detailed analytics tools: You shouldn’t have to “assume” your OTT service’s performance. It should be right there in your dashboard in an easy and quick-to-understand manner. So, look for a platform that provides valuable insights and analytics to help you track user behavior and optimize your content strategies effectively.
  • Scalability: You may have a smaller community at the moment, but it’ll grow as time goes on. On the flip side, if you already have a large community of viewers and a massive content library, you still need to invest in a platform that’s scalable enough to support your growing needs.
  • Marketing tools: You shouldn’t have to patchwork multiple tools and platforms to run your OTT service. Your platform should have built-in marketing tools to promote your platform, attract more viewers, and boost engagement. For example, Uscreen offers marketing tools like landing page builder, push notifications, gift cards, email broadcasts, subscription upsell, and integration with popular tools like Zapier, Stripe, and MailChimp.  
  • Support and migration: Creators like you are busy (and we get it). You should focus on what matters most — creating content for your community — and let your OTT platform take care of your technical needs. Make sure you read online reviews before you select an OTT provider. Check out G2 ratings, blogs, and YouTube to make sure you work with a team that truly cares about your growth and gives you the ongoing assistance you need. 

Step 6: Monetization Strategies

What to factor in when pricing your OTT video platform?

When pricing your OTT video platform, take the following factors into account:

  • Content value: Assess the quality and uniqueness of your content. High-quality, exclusive, or niche content can justify a higher price point​.
  • Audience demographics: Understand your target audience’s willingness and ability to pay. Pricing should reflect the economic realities of your audience while still offering value​.
  • Competitor analysis: Evaluate what competitors are charging for similar content. This helps you set competitive prices that attract users without undervaluing your content.
  • Monetization model: Decide whether you will use subscriptions, pay-per-view, or a hybrid model. Each model has different pricing implications and should align with your content delivery strategy.
  • Market demand: Consider the demand for your content. High demand can allow for premium pricing, while lower demand may require more competitive pricing to attract subscribers.
  • Cost of production and maintenance: Factor in all costs associated with content production, platform maintenance, and distribution to ensure pricing covers expenses and generates profit.
  • Value-added features: If you offer additional features like live streaming, interactive content, or community engagement tools, these can justify higher prices​.
  • Flexibility and discounts: Offer flexible pricing plans and consider periodic discounts or promotions to attract new users and retain existing ones.
Find Your Perfect Membership Price

Use our free tool to pinpoint your ideal membership price in just 3 steps, leveraging a decade of data.

What are the different types of monetization models for OTT services?

There are four main monetization models you should consider for your OTT video platform:

  1. Subscription-Based Models (SVOD)

This is the most popular model for OTT platforms. Viewers pay a recurring fee, typically monthly or yearly, for unlimited access to your content. Platforms like Netflix and Means TV have thrived using this model. The key to success here is to offer enough value and exclusive content that subscribers feel they are getting their money’s worth.

  1. Ad-Supported Models (AVOD)

In this model, your content is free for viewers, but you generate revenue through advertisements. This model works well if you have a large viewership and can attract advertisers. Think of YouTube as a prime example. It’s essential to balance the frequency and length of ads to avoid frustrating your audience.

  1. Transactional Models (TVOD)

Here, viewers pay for individual pieces of content, either to rent or purchase. This model is suitable for exclusive events, movies, or premium content. For example, Apple iTunes and Vimeo On Demand operate on this model. It’s an excellent choice if your content has high perceived value and viewers are willing to pay per view.

  1. Hybrid Models

Combining elements from different monetization models can maximize your revenue. For instance, you could offer a subscription service with ad-supported free tiers or premium video on demand content alongside a regular subscription. This flexibility allows you to cater to different segments of your audience.

Is the price you’re thinking of justified; is it too low or too high?

Many creators undercharge their services. Over time, we’ve identified the three main reasons why this happens:

  • Fear of being seen as sellouts 
  • Anxiety around money
  • They let member expectations influence pricing decisions

Joe Horowitz

Many membership owners underestimate the value they bring to members. I recently heard an interview where a membership creator discussed their pricing strategy on Patreon. They believed they couldn’t change prices due to legal restrictions until they learned about annual memberships. They instinctively set their monthly prices at $5.99, assuming that’s the “best” price for their membership business. When they discovered their competitors were charging $15 and upwards, there was a jaw-dropping moment: how can we replicate that, we left so much money on the table, and relief in the sense of we know what we’ve got to do now.

Joe Horowitz
VP Growth & Analytics at Uscreen

The thing is, it’s important to have a healthy relationship with money if you want to build your OTT video platform. It’s a lot of work running an OTT business and the last thing you want is to underprice yourself or choose a monetization strategy that isn’t fit for your audience and your revenue goals. 

To help you, we identified 5 classic signs your membership pricing is too low and shared advice from experts on how to increase them. 

We also dived into our internal data and found that membership business owners in the education industry charge the highest, followed by entertainment, faith, and fitness. 

Our research also reveals that while it might feel like the pricing doesn’t vary much with the size of the audience. However mid-sized creators (1,000 – 60,000 members) tend to charge higher median prices for their memberships.

Based on all of this information, if you figured out that you’re charging too low, what to do next? Or, how to announce your new pricing for your OTT video platform?

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. 

We sat down with Chris Sharpe, Co-Founder and COO of Find What Feels Good to explore how creators can successfully increase their prices and confidently share it with their members. 

Chris has done a membership price increase before and has scaled his audience size and annual revenue consistently; ergo, he knows what it takes to do it successfully. 

He shared his 3-step membership price increase plan. And in case you’re wondering what Find What Feels Good charges, here’s a look at their pricing plans:

find what feels good membership pricing
find what feels good pricing

Step 7: Driving new viewers to your OTT platform 

Once your OTT platform is up and running, the next challenge is attracting and retaining viewers. 

There are 100s of platforms you could tap into like social media channels including Instagram, Twitter, Discord, Twitch, YouTube, or other channels like email, blogs, podcasts, and more. 

What’s most important is not the number of channels you decide to publish content on to drive viewers to your OTT video platform, but identifying 1-3 channels (at max) that bring in the most viewers and double down on them. 

To identify which channels are best for promoting your OTT platform, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where does my target audience spend most of their time online?
  • What social media platforms are most popular with my target demographic?
  • What types of content perform best on each potential channel?
  • Which channels are my competitors using effectively?
  • What is the engagement level on each channel?
  • What budget do I have for marketing on these channels?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of each channel?
  • How easy is it to track and measure the performance of campaigns on each channel?
  • What kind of content formats (video, images, text) are best suited for each channel?
  • Can I leverage any existing relationships or partnerships on these channels?

We also have a library of resources sharing how you can drive viewers to your own OTT video platform and promote it effectively, so I’m going to link it all together: 

Step 8: Launching and Growing Your OTT Platform

Congratulations! You’ve made it so far and done all the heavy lifting. It’s time for one last step before it’s all smooth sailing. 

To kick things off, make sure you have a solid marketing plan. Start by creating some buzz before the launch with teasers on social media and email newsletters. On launch day, keep the excitement high with engaging content and live interactions. Make sure to monitor everything closely to catch and fix any issues quickly. 

You can use this simple OTT app marketing funnel to get an understanding of your customer’s journey. 

ott app marketing funnel
OTT app marketing funnel

Once your platform is live, it’s time to kick in the retention strategies. 

Focus on growing your audience and keeping them engaged. Regularly ask for feedback to improve the user experience and add content they love. Use analytics to see what’s working and what’s not, and adjust your strategy accordingly. Keep your community engaged with updates, interactive content, and personalized recommendations. This way, you’ll build a loyal audience that keeps coming back for more.

If you want more actionable ideas, check out our guide on how to build an OTT marketing strategy from scratch

Build an OTT platform today

You don’t need to be a tech wizard or have truckloads of money to create your own OTT platform. In today’s day and age, dedicated platforms like Uscreen make OTT app development easier and faster than ever before. Whether you want to start small with an Android and iOS app or go big with a world-class OTT platform that’s more device-inclusive (TV, desktops, and other devices) — it’s all possible.

Ready to create an OTT platform for your video business? Start planning your OTT platform today and join other successful content creators who have transformed their vision into reality. 

For more resources and support, check out Uscreen’s extensive guides and case studies to help you every step of the way.