Locking In Streaming Service Subscribers

Today’s streaming platforms are fighting to keep their SVOD and OTT subscription churn rates low. With nearly 8 out of every 10 American households subscribing to at least one streaming service, streaming has quickly become a popular pastime. However, as “streaming fatigue” settles in and viewers decide which services to keep and which to cut off, these services must take decisive action to reduce SVOD and OTT subscriber churn. 

So, what can be done to reduce churn and keep viewers locked in?

1. Provide a consistent cadence of must-see content. 

The saying “content is king” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to the streaming wars. A consistent stream of good and exclusive content will keep viewers around, interested, and engaged. 

Netflix is a prime example of a streaming service that embraces this philosophy to lock in viewers. In fact, the Netflix churn rate is the best in the industry by far at 9%. In January 2021, they revealed plans to release over 70 original films over the course of the year. While not every title released on Netflix will be a hit, the titles that do become hits generate significant buzz for the brand. And when everyone’s buzzing about the latest movie or show they’ve released, the fear of FOMO alone can prevent viewers from unsubscribing. Netflix subscribers now expect a regular cadence of new and original content. This undoubtedly keeps the Netflix churn rate low by encouraging viewers to stay put and watch for what’s next. 

2. Use platform data to optimize the customer experience. 

The Netflix churn rate is kept low not only from providing consistent content but also from providing a data-optimized viewing experience. It’s not just Netflix that has access to a wealth of user data, though — all streaming platforms do. Platforms use consumer data, among other things, to provide tailored viewing recommendations to consumers. This level of personalization is key to a good viewer experience. In fact, Netflix reports that 80% of their content watched is from the streamer’s recommendations to users. Netflix capitalized on the popularity of their recommendations to provide a ‘shuffle’ button that enables viewers to let the platform choose for them. Personalized options minimize the effects of scroll fatigue by tailoring options to content that viewers are more likely to enjoy. 

Another way to improve the customer experience with user data is to test new features on select audiences and make updates based on their overall responses. Netflix famously A/B tests everything from key art to new features like their thumbs up or thumbs down buttons on real users. In fact, Netflix tests every UX update before it becomes the default. These tests help to ensure that the customer experience is seamless and optimized to viewer preferences. 


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3. Listen to viewers and conduct thoughtful consumer research.

As is true with any industry, the entertainment industry depends on happy viewers. That’s why listening to consumers is of the utmost importance to streaming services. The data streaming platforms gather from their subscribers about search queries, watch history, and ratings will tell them one thing. However, probing viewers on a deeper level to gather insight about why viewers choose to watch a particular title or continue watching something to the end can tell an entirely different story. 

It’s important for streaming leaders to probe their audiences regularly and at every stage of the production process. Streaming platforms can test everything from initial concepts to marketing a final product to target demographics on test audiences. Luckily, Invoke’s platform makes it easy, fast, and effective to conduct virtual consumer research at scale to gain a deeper understanding of what your viewers want and need to sign up or continue using your service. Keeping a pulse on viewers undoubtedly helps to lower SVOD and OTT subscription churn rates. 

4. Offer something your competitors don’t have. 

In a sea of nearly endless viewing platforms, today’s services must stand out. Offering something different from the competition is key to attracting and retaining valuable subscribers. This was a key topic of discussion during our February 2021 webinar panel with Variety about the state of the direct-to-consumer entertainment industry. Marketing executives on the panel agreed that streaming platforms must differentiate themselves to survive and thrive in a competitive market. 

Puja Vohra, executive VP of marketing and strategy at Showtime Networks, explained the need for smaller streaming brands to have a focused vision when it comes to their consumers. She says, “It’s not always about size. There’s always a role for a big box store and a role for a boutique. We’re not going after all customers. We’re trying to be as focused as possible about going after a customer that wants quality entertainment.”

For Showtime, providing quality entertainment for their key customer base helps them stand out from other offerings. Niche streaming services like Shudder, which provides horror and thriller movie fans with a selection of their favorite flicks lean on specific brand values to attract and retain customers. As the streaming wars continue, branding and providing unique content will continue to be crucial to survival. 

Optimize the Viewing Experience with Consumer-Tested Content

As consumers decide which streaming services to retain and which to cut off, the industry will see a shift in subscriber numbers from platform to platform. That makes now the critical period to retain viewers to your platform. Providing watch-worthy content, optimizing the user experience with data, conducting thoughtful consumer research, and offering something different from the competition are key to reducing SVOD and OTT subscription churn. 

Luckily for today’s streaming services, Invoke’s platform helps you conduct in-depth, effective qual/quant consumer research for vital consumer insights. You no longer need to guess what your viewers want. With research from Invoke, you understand what consumers like and dislike and why to help you sharpen your content, messages, characters, storylines, and even the user experience. 

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