This article is part 7 of the "21 Thoughts on Video Streaming in 2021"-series.

Leandro (Lead Software Engineer at Globo) gives his 2021 take on the "Buy versus Build" debate.

The dance of buying or building in our industry might intensify in 2021, partially due to lack of talent in the market, more competition rising, but also because specialized video companies are offering exceptional solutions at an adequate price.

You bought a solution, but later you realized that building it can solve your specific local intricacies, retains knowledge,  and also put you ahead of the match. On the other hand, you created an in-house solution for a particular set of problems nonetheless you’re paying a high price to maintain this project, and an existent solution in the market would save you money and time.

Keep reading to get 1) context and 2) my take.


Buy versus Build is pretty straightforward:

  • Should you, a video streaming app (e.g. Netflix/Hulu/...), build your own technology stack, or
  • Should you, a video streaming app (e.g. Netflix/Hulu/...), buy your technology stack?

Of course, you could only build/buy some parts of your technology stack, and buy/build the other parts.

Googling "Buy versus Build" in OTT can be a challenge, because most articles are published by companies selling their products. Here are hits though:

My take

Powerful, short contribution by Leandro.

  • The struggle for talent is everywhere - whether you're building a B2B or a B2C product. Internet video technology is maturing, allowing B2B companies to start excelling, but community-driven/open-source projects as well.
  • Should you "Buy" or "Build"? It depends on your product, your talent, the component, and your team size.
  • People always underestimate the cost of maintenance though, especially in combination with employee tenure. On the other hand, people also overestimate the flexibility of products – even if you build them in-house.
  • Buy doesn't imply more expensive than Build. Build doesn't imply better than Buy.
  • At the end of the day, you're always Buying (externally or internally) and always Building (the app and/or the relevant components).

PS. Leandro wrote "the" introduction on Digital Video. (Highly recommended reading material if P-frames are still a mystery to you!)