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Scaling Streaming Media Applications: How to Cut Costs without Sacrificing Performance

Streaming media has established itself as the predominant method by which consumers listen to music, watch movies and TV, and enjoy other media content. The recent Emerging Video Services 2022 study conducted by Leichtman Research Group found that 83% of households in the United States use a video-on-demand subscription service from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and/or Hulu, reflecting an increase from 78% in 2020 and 64% in 2017. This study also determined that 64% of U.S. households subscribe to more than one of these services. Similarly, a 2021 study by entertainment research and analysis company MIDiA highlights strong growth in the global base of subscribers to music streaming services like Pandora and Apple Music. This number of subscribers grew to 523.9 million music subscribers in 2021, an increase of 26.4% compared to the previous year.

Needless to say, consumers have grown to love and rely on streaming services. But building and maintaining streaming services isn’t an easy task. Companies in this industry face many challenges as they try to keep up with the growing consumer demand.

With the rise in popularity and adoption of streaming applications, the demand for reliable, secure, and elastic infrastructure has never been greater. But this OTT (over-the-top) means of providing media content over the internet is complex and changes frequently. New technologies and platforms are emerging all the time. So companies need to be able to provide high-quality, reliable services while quickly and efficiently developing new applications and features to remain competitive and ahead of the competition. To accomplish this, many companies in this sector turn to the power of functional programming.

Functional Programming For Streaming Media Applications

Here are a few ways in which functional programming is helping streaming media companies meet these challenges:

Reliability: Software developed with functional programming is more reliable than traditional imperative programming languages. This is because functional programming languages are less prone to bugs and errors. One reason for this is that functional programming avoids using mutable data, which can inadvertently become corrupted and produce unexpected results. Using immutable data structures makes isolating and containing errors easier, enabling faster recovery from failures.

Concurrency: Functional programming is well-suited for building concurrent systems—those able to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. This is, again, a benefit of immutable data. Immutability ensures that data isn’t modified during processing, enabling easier data sharing between multiple threads or processes. The lack of side effects in pure functions makes them easier to parallelize and execute concurrently. This provides streaming media companies with improved system performance, enabling the delivery of a better user experience.

Scalability: Streaming services must be massively scalable and elastic to meet customer demand, e.g., for content launches, daily peaks and lows, etc. And functional programming is especially well-suited for building scalable systems because immutable data structures ensure no changes are made to the data during processing. This makes apportioning workloads across multiple processors or nodes easier to accomplish. Additionally, because pure functions have no side effects, they are easier to parallelize and optimize. This helps companies with OTT platforms scale infrastructure to meet increasing demand.

Maintainability: Functional programming can help streaming media companies maintain their systems more efficiently. Again, this is courtesy of pure functions. Being free from side effects makes code easier to test, debug, and refactor, which is essential when you’ve got a complex system like a streaming platform to maintain. Functional programming also encourages modularity and reduces verbosity, making it easier to update and maintain different system parts independently. Functional languages often have built-in support for testing, a crucial feature because streaming applications are often complex and require extensive testing to guarantee their reliability and scalability.

Balancing Cost and Performance

As you can see, functional programming can address many challenges streaming media companies face. But cost is another critical obstacle to achieving and sustaining a reliable streaming service. Can scalable streaming media applications be achieved while simultaneously cutting costs? The short answer is yes! And functional programming comes to the rescue again.

These are a few ways that functional programming can help streaming media companies reduce costs:

Reduced Infrastructure Cost: Functional programming can help reduce infrastructure cost by making scaling and managing OTT platforms easier. By design, functional programming is highly scalable and efficient. By breaking down a problem into small, independent functions, functional programming can make it easier to scale a system horizontally. This essentially reduces the need for expensive hardware because, instead of relying on one powerful machine, systems can be distributed across multiple nodes.

Improved Efficiency: Functional programming can reduce memory usage and make it easier to write parallel code, thanks to the use of immutable data and pure functions. And with reusable and composable code, it’s easier to maintain and update streaming platforms, saving both time and money. The need for expensive hardware upgrades diminishes because resources are used more efficiently. Further, functional programming often goes hand in hand with the use of modern asynchronous I/O frameworks, which are highly optimized to maximize throughput and scalability, allowing a large volume of requests to be handled efficiently by a small number of servers.

Lower Cost of Testing: It’s easier to understand and maintain functional programming code because it utilizes small, self-contained functions, making it easier to isolate and test individual functions. Because functional programming simplifies code maintenance, less time and cost are required for testing, debugging, and updating code.

Faster Development: Many functional programming languages include powerful libraries featuring built-in functions that can dramatically reduce development time—less boilerplate code results in increased productivity. Speeding up the development process means fewer costs associated with launching new services and features. It also means products can arrive to market faster.


To summarize, functional programming is beneficial to companies in the streaming media industry. It allows these companies to build concurrent, resilient systems that are both scalable and maintainable. The immutability, pure functions, and modularity offered by functional programming make it easier to develop and maintain complex streaming systems, improve performance, and deliver the best user experience possible. And it can help streaming media companies cut costs by reducing hardware and infrastructure costs, simplifying code maintenance, and accelerating development time.

As the demand for streaming media continues to grow, functional programming will likely become an increasingly important tool for companies in this industry as they fight to stay ahead of the competition and continue providing their customers with high-quality streaming content and experiences.



Feel free to reach out to us if your team is interested in learning more about how we can help ensure your streaming media applications are ready for the demands of tomorrow today.

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