How to Retain ‘Binge and Churn’ Subscribers

The flexibility of SVoD services has given rise to users whose goal is to ‘binge and churn’. But what can be done to retain these subscribers, preventing them from becoming an OTT churn statistic and instead increasing their lifetime value?

Bingeing is a good thing for SVoD businesses. It means engagement is high and subscribers keep coming back for more. But, to butcher a phrase from The Dark Knight, some subscribers just want to binge and churn. They sign up to access your original content and, once they’re done, they disappear until a new original series hits their radar. Unless you take action to break the cycle.

Subscribers that fit the binge and churn description typically fall into one of two camps: those who can be retained with the right coaxing and those who can’t (although other action can be taken in the case of these users). In this article we’ll take each group in turn, explaining what can be done to buck this trend and maximize lifetime value from a subsection of any service’s user base that is a notable contributor to OTT churn statistics.

Bingers we can prevent becoming an OTT churn statistic

First up, binge and churn users that can be saved. As we have discussed in previous posts, a considerable number of those who binge and churn do so because of a lack of perceived value in the platform they’ve subscribed to.

These users appear at first glance to be highly engaged. They are exhibiting similar traits to someone that’s fully bought into an OTT offering: regular interaction with the platform, a high content completion percentage among blockbuster titles, and unprompted returns – outside any marketing efforts.

Where things come unstuck, however, is after they’ve completed the lead content that attracted them to the service in the first place. That’s when these users will show their true colors. And if this happens in their first month, they’ll disappear before handing over a single dollar.

Addressing the issue means knowing what subscribers are going to do before they do it. This is where the power of audience insights come in handy. By having a detailed understanding of how users are engaging with your service across the board, you will be able to make predictions about the future behavior of specific sub-groups based on what other subscribers have done in the past.

What metrics can identify at-risk subscribers?

CHI logoThere are several ways to achieve this, but at Wicket Labs we take a holistic view to tracking subscriber health. We call it the Customer Happiness Index, or the CHI® Score.

Building on the data-driven insights the Wicket Scorecard uncovers, we assign a CHI Score to each subscriber. This is an aggregate of four things: content, activity, loyalty, and experience. By factoring in how subscribers engage with content, how often they use the service, how long they have been subscribed, and more, it’s possible to accurately predict current and future behavior. In essence, this means the CHI Score can flag users that are at risk of churn long before they hit the unsubscribe button.

With this baseline established, another metric delivers churn-busting actionable insights – the subscriber Attention Index. We’ve previously highlighted how this is a powerful way to surface content that can drive engagement, uncovering hidden gems that might not otherwise have been on your radar. And nowhere is this more important than with binge and churn trialists.

If a trialist isn’t pushed towards content that platform and subscriber insights show is likely to keep a user with their acquisition profile engaged, it is understandable they might drop off when left to their own devices. It’s for this reason that discovering and promoting hidden gems goes a long way towards keeping trialists wrapped up in your ecosystem, feeling like there’s a steady stream of relevant content for them.

Using these metrics to grow engagement and drive retention

The two metrics outlined above can be used to develop a sustainable solution to deliver the perceived value that is so essential for long-term subscription.

A mixture of the CHI Score to track new user engagement and the Attention Index to know what content actions to take during this critical period addresses this. Identifying the patterns among users who sign up to watch specific content but convert into a paying subscriber after certain actions or content promotions, is hugely valuable for future growth. It helps to prevent building a flakey, non-loyal user base that drops in and out depending on what blockbuster or original content is available – the Achilles’ Heel of any SVOD business.

Tackling those who still show signs of churn

But what about the ones that still want to leave? Not everyone can be saved. Some trialists, despite your best efforts, will still binge and churn, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done. This is a group of users that offer value, just not in the way you might think.

First and foremost, those who churn from an OTT service aren’t gone forever. By mining your platform for valuable data with which to plan their return, you can understand what approach will be most effective at bringing returning users back into the fold. Now you’ve got ready-made insights with which to fuel remarketing efforts in the future.

Keeping in touch with these users and encouraging them to return with a re-engagement funnel tailored to their needs is a good way to grow the lifetime value vs customer acquisition cost ratio among those who are susceptible to binge and churn. A user that comes back each year for a few months is still worth their weight in gold. Particularly when you consider the lower acquisition cost associated with luring them back each time rather than finding a new user from scratch.

Finding more of your best customers

Equally, data-driven insights pulled from your streaming platform can be adapted to go on the offensive, using targeted customer acquisition as another way to tackle the bottom-line impact of binge and churn trialists. With the Wicket Scorecard, it’s possible to find your most loyal, highly engaged customers and use them as the basis for lookalike campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, and Google.

There’s no escaping the fact that some users will unsubscribe no matter what you do. Finding similar people akin to your best customers is the antidote to balancing these loss-leaders. By using the CHI Score, you can identify who your happiest customers are. Then, export those users and run a campaign to find more of the people you want subscribed to your service – i.e. the ones that are likely to stick around, paying month after month and returning the highest LTV.

As the number of available services grows and the market gets saturated, which in turn will raise the cost of acquiring customers, the pressure to keep new users around for more than a couple of months – and certainly beyond the trial period – is higher than ever before. Monitoring and acting upon data insights gleaned from your platform is a way to overcome this barrier to future success, while also lowering the risks associated with any users who attempt to binge and churn.

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