Boy, 2020 was a crazy year. When COVID-19 lockdowns forced social distancing upon us, countless people also lost their daily jobs down the line. However, something peculiar did happen, too. Video streaming trends skyrocketed to make OTT streaming one of the very few segments that drove big profits during the pandemic.

  • According to a study, the global video streaming trends grew by 20% in March 2020, and the US was one of the top contributors to this with a 26% boost in the same trend.
  • Developing countries, where OTT services were growing marginally before the pandemic, experienced a whopping 60% push in the number of OTT subscriptions during the lockdown.
  • Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, and many other OTT services had to reduce their streaming bitrate in many regions just to cope with added loads on their servers due to high-bandwidth demands.

If you have been running an OTT service of any kind before the pandemic, then you know what I mean. Especially, the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms came out as a boon to the people observing self-quarantine.

So, what’s your take? Do you think you too can tap into this market? Did your streaming service too saw some unprecedented trends?

The SVOD trends are off the charts. The global video streaming market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 21% from 2021 to 2028. The $50 billion markets will soon touch the $200 billion mark. What is it you are doing to grow your subscription-based OTT business and claiming a share of this multi-billion dollar pie?

As you read along, you will find expert tips to grow your OTT subscription business during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. So stick with me if you want to grow your business, or even if you are looking to start a new OTT streaming business this year.

The impact of COVID-19 on OTT subscriptions

 COVID-19 is indeed a curse on global society, but it has also nudged our lives towards the digital revolution. People are increasingly looking for viable ways to not just order products and services online but also access more bundled offerings.

For example, if two businesses are offering the same things, more people are being attracted towards the one that also offers something extra –like a bundle. Take your cell phone service provider for instance. Some service providers are offering bundled subscriptions to multiple OTT streaming services along with their regular post-paid plans.

This new behavior is prodding a shift towards subscription business models across different industries and segments. Consequently, encouraging the businesses to make their subscriptions more flexible and versatile, while also collaborating with other subscription services for creating a prospective bundle.

What else can you do to drive OTT subscriptions?

The basics of every business activity start with pricing, and it is probably the most crucial toolkit in the subscription economy, be it OTT or any other industry. Your pricing strategy must align with your target customers’ needs and values. As an OTT subscription business, you must comprehend the habits of your consumers by building some basic pricing models. Based on this understanding, segment your consumers on relevant criteria such as, users with the basic plan, users who have purchased bundled plans, users with certain devices, etc. This comprehension of your user base will act as a foundation to apply different methods to boost your subscriptions in the following verticals:

1. Encourage first-time subscribers to opt-in for notifications

Notifications are not limited to push messages alone. Email notifications are equally important. Having your subscribers opted-in for communications from your brand can produce incredible results. While email notifications can be used for promotions and important updates, you can rely on push-notifications to engage your users without being intrusive.

Keeping these two channels of communication open can enable you to not only run targeted campaigns but also deliver engaging messages about movies, shows, new uploads, offers, subscription status, reminders, and much more. 

2. Device a hassle-free funnel to on-board your new users

While it’s a good thing that you have acquired some new subscribers after some aggressive marketing, but the trickiest part starts from here. You need to work even hard to keep these users subscribed, the stage for which can be devised right from the phase when they get on-board for the first time.

While the existing subscribers already know how to use your platform, new users might easily jump-off if you don’t guide them in the onboarding process. Design an intuitive onboarding funnel that not only encourages users to purchase their first subscription but also guide them towards consuming their first premium content as your subscriber.

The most common way to do it is by offering a free trial to the new users. Now, it’s your choice if you want to collect payment information for auto-billing after the trial period. However, you must definitely collect their email addresses so you have enough data for marketing to these users in case they don’t convert after the trial period.

3. Bring-in multi-device support

Having personalized apps for multiple platforms is certainly a plus point to set you apart from others in the market. Especially after custom streaming devices have become popular in the market, more and more people are using them to watch OTT content.

So, check for the most popular streaming devices in your region, and them into the list of supported devices. To name a few, Mi streaming stick, Amazon fire stick, Roku Streaming stick, NVidia Shield TV, Xbox, Play Station, etc.

Support to these platforms should be in addition to basic platforms –Android, iOS, and WebRTC.

4. Device a personalized content recommendation model

This strategy is specifically for engaging your existing subscribers. Getting new subscribers won’t help if you keep losing your existing subscribers. To keep them engaged, you must work hard to gripping them to an extent where they don’t lose their interest in the platform. What could be a better way to model their user-behaviors and watch history to recommend more relevant content to watch?

Apart from this, users must be allowed to pick from where they left. This also includes showcasing the new episodes of a series that they have been watching. For example, if a user has watched season 1 of XYZ a year ago, recommending the season 2 once it’s available will surely nudge them up. In this way, even if a user has not been subscribed for a long-time, they know that they can always pick it up in the future without any hassle.

Besides, the same model can also be used for recommending related content to watch next.

5. Create multiple subscription plans for different segments

Multiple packages allow you to target different segments of users in a personalized manner. For example, let’s say you are offering only a flagship plan with everything included in it: 4 simultaneous screens, 4K streaming, multi-device support. Here, you might not be able to appeal to the users who don’t need all these features.

Hence, there is a better chance to appeal to more users with an optional, limited, and cheaper plan that allows them to avail themselves only the services or bundles that are viable to them. For instance, you can offer a cheaper mobile-only plan to attract with HD streaming to attract those users who don’t use 4K devices or multiple screens.

Similarly, you can create multiple plans with different combinations for different segments of the users. You can give them the option to upgrade or degrade a plan anytime based on their current needs. Remember, you must customize your bundles differently according to the prospects in different regions. For example, a mobile-only plan can do wonders in a region with limited access to other types of devices, but the same plan might not work in a region where more people have the access to 4K devices and multiple screens.

6. Make referrals rewarding with coupons and vouchers 

As a business, you know how difficult it is to identify your prospects and then getting their attention via traditional marketing channels like email. That’s why you must also experiment with unconventional channels like word-of-mouth, and there is no better way to do it than using referrals and rewards.

People are more likely to pay attention if a message comes from a known person. Encouraging that known person with rewards can spread your messages more efficiently. It’s more like getting an insider to talk on behalf of you.

Last, but not least –the quality of everything is crucial

Finally, nothing would work if you can’t keep the quality of your content library and user-experience top-notch.  Even the best offers and cheapest subscription plans would not do any good if users don’t like your content, or the platform works like something from the past.

To sort this out- make sure you have a continuous flow of content; exclusive content to be more precise. The subscription business model works like a charm if your users can’t find your content anywhere else. Ensure that your video streaming solution comes with the latest technology stack to support trending features. Besides an intuitive content discovery experience, the streaming platform must come with a competent video player, too. You can only apply these measures if your platform supports such features.

Unable to grow your OTT subscription business in the pandemic?

Perhaps, it’s time to upgrade your video streaming platform to something more advanced. Check out StreamView SVOD platform builder to unlock unique features and monetization channels for your service.