Streaming Video is Booming Right Now, But…

What do You do When People Start Leaving the House Again?

Video views are up 30% for OTT services but as stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19 gradually lift across the world, once highly engaged subscribers may have other things on their mind. Learn about actions to take to retain this cohort of users for the long-term no matter which stage of the lifecycle they’re in.

As “stay-at-home” and “shelter-in-place” orders continue to extend due to the global spread of COVID-19, many consumers have turned to OTT video streaming services for their entertainment needs. So much so that the number of minutes spent streaming was up nearly double from the same time period of 2019, according to a Nielsen report. There has been such a dramatic increase in internet traffic that some of the most widely used services, like Netflix and Youtube, have throttled video quality in some locations to ease the strain on the network.

People are getting creative figuring out ways to stay connected with loved ones while watching their favorite shows, streaming concerts from their favorite bands, even watching stand-up comedians performing via live-streams for their fans. Many over-the-top video services and broadcast corporations are even pitching in to try and help everyone make the best of the situation as possible. Offering extended free trials, completely free content, and opening up their VOD library’s content offerings to a wider range of their subscribers. Noble efforts indeed, sprinkled with a little hope that maybe, just maybe, some of these people will stick around or maintain a similar level of content consumption when the pandemic fades.

But, as we all know, hope is not a plan.

When Stay-at-home Orders Have Lifted

It’s springtime. The sun’s coming out. The days are growing longer. Friends and family are missed. Cabin fever has assuredly set in at this point. So…What do you do when people start to leave the house again on a regular basis? What strategies could your video service employ to keep these newfound or re-engaged users coming back into the future?

Keep reading to learn some of the ways integrated data insights can prohibit trial breakage, subscriber churn, and help your business grow even in these tumultuous times.

Tips for Converting Free Trial Users

One of the most critical areas for SVoD services to focus on is trial conversions. Chances are if you have succeeded in attracting someone to this point of the funnel, there has likely been a substantial amount of time and financial investment involved. Don’t let your efforts go to waste!

We work with our clients to not only ensure they are promoting content that will attract new users and trialists but also help select and measure promoted content that drives the best conversion rates. We see the misstep of pushing a single, intriguing piece of content that drives trial acquisition but not engagement and conversion. Trial Drivers measure what subscribers watch when they first sign up and how well each of those customers converts to paid subscriptions. This is helpful in two ways:

  1. You can quickly see what content drives sign-ups
  2. This informs your onboarding campaign to make sure those users are finding additional content (and thus value) in the trial period which drives higher sub numbers and engagement

To maximize the likelihood of converting a trial user, based on our data, we recommend shorter trial length periods with a standard trial vs. a “frictionless” trial. But every service is different. Testing this can give you valuable insight into the length of trial you should run.

  • Having an onboarding strategy is table stakes at this point
  • Take it even further to break your trial users into cohorts to send even more targeted messaging that will resonate with each user
  • This is a great time to understand bingeing behavior and is an opportunity to message and onboard these users differently
  • By segmenting users according to their behavior or engagement level in your service, you reduce friction in your acquisition cycle and increase the relevance of your campaigns, giving them a reason to stick around and stay engaged

Tips for Keeping Subscribers Engaged

Active Subscribers

new member sign
Turn your subscribers into members. A member of a larger group or community which is built around a brand or service is more likely to feel connected to that brand or service. Offering a diversity of benefits beyond the core content can help keep members engaged and active over the long-term.

Pay attention to your survival curve. Why is this important? I’m glad you asked!

  • The survival curve provides analysis for when subscribers typically churn out your OTT video service and projects retention (up to 1000 days in the Wicket Scorecard) allowing for a more accurate lifetime value
  • The line in the survival curve helps you pick out irregularities or notable events in customer churn
  • Our analysis shows the first few billing cycles show the most precipitous drops in retention
  • This can help identify bingeing behavior, which leads us into our next topic


People love being immersed in stories. That’s part of why binge-watching is a thing. Focus on the binge-watching user by presenting a new season, a new series, or perhaps a movie – that has strong audience clustering with the content that they have binged in order to keep them deeply engaged with the service.

We define bingers as “a user who has watched three or more episodes of the same series in a 24 hour period.” We want to turn bingers into fans. When they are watching multiple series to completion, it increases the likelihood they will stick with your service for a longer period of time.

But remember, binging is not necessarily a bad behavior as long as you are getting those users to engage with other content. Our customers have great success engaging users with the Attention Index. It identifies additional series or movies to watch based on viewing overlap which maintains a high Attention Index. In fact, recommending shows that have lower viewership, but high Attention Index will allow you to bring the Hidden Gems of your content catalog to the forefront.

Identify at-risk bingeing behavior and use the insights of the Wicket Scorecard to aggressively market the breadth of content available in your video service. Engagement emails or notifications may be every week to every three weeks but for the binging cohort, you should increase the frequency of this outreach. The goal is to engage them in the next show and the one after that.

Stalled Users

Every video service we work with has a cohort of subscribers who haven’t watched videos in the last 30 days. These inactive subscribers are at risk of leaving the video service. Inactivity has a strong causal relationship with churn.

Create a methodology for reaching back out to this cohort of subscribers to find the ideal timing, the sweet spot, to re-engage them. Having a thoughtful process that tests your outreach and the responses from the testing groups can help to find an effective method to re-engage stalled users and minimize the number who then voluntarily churn.

Use viewing history as a guide for promoting content. Perhaps the new season of a popular series or a new movie is premiering on the service. Identify the content users have viewed in the past and make sure they know what is coming.


Content Checkup


Content is king, right? Yes, but It is just one contributor to the triumvirate of the strongest influences most people assess when making a decision to subscribe or maintain a subscription to a video service.

Maintaining a content strategy that includes a balanced content library will help you to keep your users engaged and coming back for more.

  • Have a deep content offering so users don’t feel like they’ve made it to the end of your catalog
  • Cross-promote your content based on engagement data, like the Attention Index
  • Be sure the genres of your library breakdown are representative of what your users are watching

Tips to Win-back Lost Subscribers

While we’re at it, let us not forget those former subscribers that formerly enjoyed your content. Whether they were “binge ‘n churners,” involuntary or even voluntary, if they were happy with your service overall, maybe there’s a chance to win them back through reconnect campaigns and in turn, reduce your CAC. Invite them back to view new content based on their past viewing behavior:

  • Have you licensed exclusive content that would appeal to them again? Let them know
  • Have you updated your user experience for specific devices that former users watched on? Let them know
  • Have you changed your pricing or have new offers to entice them back? Let them know
  • Were they happy overall with your service and maintained a long tenure? Let them know you want them back and make them an offer they can’t refuse

A Final Word

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of OTT video amongst consumers. Your service has likely seen gains as people have stayed home. Now is the time to start thinking about the strategies and tactics you will employ to retain them. Before the orders are lifted and before life begins returning to the “new normal.”

Is your business facing challenges right now because of the global pandemic? Could you use a platform that allows you deep insight into the many facets of user acquisition and maintenance? If you provide over-the-top video services, this is the time to implement an audience insights platform. Hit us up for an online demo. We’d love to show you how the Wicket Scorecard can help you to not only maintain your subscriber-base but grow your overall audience lifetime value.

Understand and Combat Video Subscription Churn

Download our whitepaper to learn about video subscription churn and what you can do to combat it.
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