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What is the difference between SVOD services that succeed and those that fail?

In the research and consulting work that Trender Research does, we occasionally have the opportunity to share with you some informative content. That's the case with this excellent new white paper from past OTT Executive Summit ( sponsor @Zype. The white paper is based on the experiences of three real customer case studies. In it, we learn not just how to build and launch a new SVOD service, but also how to attract and retain subscribers. I like the practical advice from a customer perspective, including which OTT devices are best to support out of the gate.

SVOD as a preferred viewing option for consumers is expected to continue its growth trajectory. The question with any new OTT service-- once you've done all the hard work to create or license your content-- is how do you monetize it? This white paper tackles that challenge by showing how to build, launch and grow a subscription video service using examples from actual deployments. 


"Build, Launch, Grow." Download and read it here: 


What is the difference between SVOD services that succeed and those that fail? Here are the key challenges that content owners, such as FilmDetective.TV, Rebel Media, and NightFlight, had to overcome as they build their subscription video service.

How to build and RETAIN subscribers?

  • With a subscription service, your work cultivating an audience and driving subscribers never ends. Figuring out the best way to tell people about your brand and content is an ongoing challenge for video businesses at any stage. For whatever type of video you’re distributing, there’s an entire community out there who is interested in your content—the question is, how do you best reach them?
  • Leveraging social platforms is one good way to reach them and the key to driving brand awareness and engagement with your audience. How do you make your content a central part of your target audience’s online community. How do you prompt them to subscribe, as well as reinforce the value of your service to your current subscribers? I won't steal the white paper's thunder but suffice to say it is a mix of art and science, and a good supporting OTT platform.
  • Getting your audience to subscribe to your service is just the tip of the iceberg. The real challenge boils down to keeping your active subscribers happy. Subscriber churn is inevitable, but there are proactive steps that you can take to help you retain your subscribers for longer and ensure your service is meeting (and exceeding) your subscribers’ expectations. The key is to make your library more than just a "video snacking" site and keep subscribers coming back.

How to convert viewers into paid subscribers?

  • In order to gain more control audience, revenue and content, many content owners have moved away from free platforms like YouTube and launched their own subscription video service.
  • The transition from free to paid isn’t always straightforward and one of the initial challenges is deciding the best strategy for monetizing content. For a video business to be successful, it’s critical to balance free content that attracts new subscribers and monetizing premium or exclusive content to generate revenue. Once again, this is part art and science and it's important to have a monetization platform that is flexible and allows experimentation.
  • Ultimately your consumer’s decision to pay for a subscription comes down to cost and perceived value. Hint: let them try it out! If your audience doesn’t have the opportunity to preview the content, they probably won’t realize the value of paying for a subscription. Finding the right balance between free and paid content takes some experimentation and A/B testing.

What are the best devices to support?

  • This is one of the top questions asked by my consulting clients. One of the challenges of launching an SVOD service is simply deciding which devices you should support. As connected TV and set-top viewership grow, it can be difficult to determine what devices your audience prefers and where your content will have the most reach. While most will rattle off the usual suspects, iOS, Android, Roku, etc., the right answer lies in understanding who your target market is.
  • Should you try to launch on as many devices as possible? When you launch an SVOD service, obviously you want to be distributing your content to as many endpoints as possible in order to reach the largest audience. However, cost and complexity get in the way. Often times content owners are limited to supporting only one or two devices, especially at the time of launch. Supporting multiple devices brings content management challenges, not to mention that apps can be costly, time-consuming and resource heavy.

What’s going to set your service apart from others?

  • Clearly defining your brand identity is what will set your service apart from your competitors. The best way to stand out among the sea of other subscription services is to curate a focused library, with unique content that your audience can’t find anywhere else – whether you have compelling, original content or a library of in-demand niche content. Whatever your brand’s unique value proposition is, in order to be successful, you must already have a dedicated audience when you launch your subscription service.


OK, so those are some of my take-aways from the white paper. To go deeper and get more customer-specific best practices, you'll have to read it for yourself: 

One Other Note: Zype University 

Note, this link takes you to a library (called "Zype University") with other useful white papers as well, including: 

- "The Four Building Blocks of OTT: Setting Your Video Business Up for Success"

- "Fundamentals of Video Monetization: Make Money Based on Your Content and Audience"

- "OTT and Beyond: The Ultimate Guide for Your OTT Service"

I haven't read these other papers but based on this one I suspect they are also worth reading.

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