Challenges of Launching an SVOD Service - How to Build & Keep Subscribers

By Chris Smith on December 13, 2017


What is the difference between SVOD services that succeed and those that fail? Building and retaining a substantial base of subscribers is critical to the long-term success of any subscription business. Although it may sound simple, this is a key challenge that every SVOD service must overcome.

What’s the secret? It all comes down to focusing on your audience and having the flexibility to adapt as their needs continue to evolve. Here’s a few ways that content owners who have grown their SVOD services into successful businesses were able to build and retain the subscribers they have today.

Building Subscribers: Focus on Your Audience

If you have a specific niche or hyper-localized viewership, it’s especially important you have the ability market and promote your content well. You have to be extremely focused on your audience—know who they are, where they are, and what they care about.

This is why it’s so important to spend time cultivating your social following. Social media is a powerful tool because it enables you to communicate directly with audiences that care about your specific content. It’s important to no only be a part of those online communities, but actively engage in conversations.

Engaging with your audience communities is the most important marketing tool to employ. It does far more than just help recruit new subscribers; it also informs many aspects of the service— from the content delivered, to the devices supported—the conversion helps keep the service closely aligned with subscribers and potential customers.

Engage in Social Communities

Become a central part of your target audience’s community. Start and join conversations that relate directly and indirectly to your content. This will help to increase your brand awareness and establish you as an authority, while serving as a reminder to subscribe to your service.

Listen and Respond

Listening to the social conversation is just as important as participating. Knowing what your audience wants and getting a sense of their implicit needs will enable you to respond quickly and make your content more engaging for new and existing subscribers. Don’t just listen, but take action.

If your audience is talking a lot about Roku lately, your next move should be to support that device. Did a specific video get a lot of engagement with fans? Start incorporating fan-favorite content into your regular programming.

Leverage Free Content

Although growing the number of subscribers will always be a primary concern for SVOD services, paywalled content (even if it’s low) will remain a deterrent for many online video viewers. Especially when they aren’t yet familiar with your content or brand.

One of the reasons SVOD services choose to include an ad-supported tier of content is the positive impact it has on subscriber growth. Leveraging a hybrid model and including free ad-supported video helps to convert viewers into paid subscribers, with low to zero customer acquisition costs. Even if viewers don’t convert to subscribers, you’re still bringing in revenue from advertising. Learn more about balancing free and paid content, here>>

Keeping Subscribers: Be Flexible and Adapt

In order to keep your subscribers around for the long haul, you must understand what currently is and isn’t working and then have the flexibility to adapt. Do you know what videos have been viewed, how often and if the viewer finished it?

Tracking Performance

What are you most frequently viewed videos? The videos that have the highest engagement helps to assess which topics and video talent are resonating the most with your viewers. Have a video that performs well on one device, but poorly on another? This indicates something important about your audiences on each device.

Have a video that receives few or no plays? Give the audience time to find them, but ultimately remove underperforming videos from your library and replace it with fresh content.

Are your viewers completing your videos?

Low completion rates for a video could indicate there’s a problem with pacing or length of the story. High completion rates, on the other hand, suggest the topic is important to the audience, and the video was of the appropriate length and pace.

Tracking the performance of your videos helps you to understand your content, audience and revenue and gives you the insights to drive critical decisions for your business.

Refreshing Content

One of the easiest and most effective tactics for retaining subscribers is to simply provide your subscribers with a steady flow of new or fresh content. When subscribers continually have new and engaging content to watch, they are much more compelled to keep their subscription. It’s also important to inform new content based on data from your video performance, in addition to feedback and requests from your audience.

Connect your video with viewers, everywhere.