Whoa! Heavy topic. Building a WordPress website to behave like Netflix, would be a lot of work. Not impossible work though. It’s quite achievable (some of you can cross can-wordpress-be-used-to-create-a-website-like-netflix off your checklist. The words like or similar are key here). But it’s not as simple as using and configuring some available plugins. Obviously, you would need a few essential WordPress plugins for e-Commerce, Subscriptions and Membership for the site. But the functionality as a whole would have to be provided as a custom solution.
Before we jump right in, let’s take a look the functionality are we would be looking to achieve.
Features of a Paid Subscriptions Website
A website like Netflix allows users to stream videos on-demand or to rent videos. But all of this is possible only if a user is a paid member. So essentially, the business is based on a subscription model. Once a user becomes a member, he can avail privileges. So, feature #1, we would need to provide is a Subscription option for interested users.
Once users subscribe, they have to be able to browse through available videos- easily. For this, enter feature #2. We would need a Video Search option for members.
Once a member selects a video he likes, he can either rent it or view it (if the option is available). Any guesses on feature #3? Okay, we’ll divide it into two. An option to rent the video, and an option to live stream it. To rent videos, a queue has to be provided as well, where a member can add say at most 5 items at a time.
But all these features are from a members perspective. As a website owner, you have to manage the following, which would bring us to feature #4, video and member management. Video management would involve, managing inventory, and selecting a video hosting service. Member management would involve restricting visitor access, charging members on a monthly basis, handling subscriptions/unsubscriptions, or change in subscription plans. This of course will be handled by the subscription functionality you provide.
All good so far? Let’s take a look at a few plugins we would need to make the task a bit simpler.
Essential Plugins for a Paid Subscriptions Website
- The basis for a paid subscriptions website is an e-Commerce plugin, and we have picked WooCommerce. WooCommerce along with the extension plugins available, provides us with a solid base. WooCommerce allows us to add feature images for your videos (products), add description, reviews, related videos, and so on. It also allows us to categorize and tag your videos. A custom search filter can be built over WooCommerce if needed.
- The subscriptions functionality can be added using the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin. Various plans can be added as subscription products. The Subscriptions plugin supports sign-up fees, free trials, and discounts.
- To restrict member and visitor access, we would need a membership plugin. We could use the Groups plugin, along with the Groups for WooCommerce Integration plugin.
Once we have set up these plugins, it’s time to move on to provide the core functionality, video streaming and renting.
How to Provide Online Video Streaming and Manage Rentals
Among live video streaming and managing rentals, live streaming is the easier option to provide. What you have to do, is use a CDN, to host all your videos. The tricky part is managing video rentals.
What happens in Netflix is that,
- A member can add several items at once in a rental queue.
- Each item has to be shipped to the member as per the priority set in the queue.
- All items are not shipped at once. Instead when a delivered item is returned, the next item in the queue has to be shipped.
Video Rental Queue
This queue would have to be provided as a custom functionality in a member’s ‘My Account’ page. But this queue has to be visible to an admin as well. There has to be a custom module setup where the admin can view which movies have been demanded by members, grouped either on a movie basis or as per a member basis.
QR Code to Track Rentals
There will have to be a barcode or QR code system integrated to track shipping and returns. An automated order system has to be setup, where in a new order item is created when a rented video is returned.
A site like Netflix on WordPress has to be a well architected solution. As far as scalability is concerned, there could be some issues. Not a Netflix clone, but something similar, is quite plausible. I would like to know, which according to you, is a must have functionality, for such a website. Do feel free to leave your thoughts and feedback, in the comment section below.