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Streaming services will retain subscribers even after the pandemic

February 22, 2021 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

The media ecosystem is constantly evolving to embrace new forms of content, platforms, distribution, and technology. Social platforms, user-generated content, and streaming services all play a part in transforming the consumer relationship.

As a result, digital publishers increasingly look to a direct to consumer (DTC) business models as a go-to strategy for content distribution. For online consumers, access to a streaming video service is a daily connection point. According to Brightback’s third annual State of Industry Report, 98% of online consumers subscribe to streaming media. In fact, the majority (75%) of this audience subscribes to two or more services.

Subscription adoption

The pandemic is a key influencer in consumer adoption of streaming subscriptions. More than one-third (36%) of consumers state their subscriptions started with the onset of Covid-19. Significantly, 86% of subscribers say they plan to maintain their streaming services even after the pandemic. While many direct to consumer (DTC) subscription services registered increases compared to last year, technology-first subscriptions outpace physical goods subscriptions.

Managing cancellations

Online consumers want a seamless process from sign-up to cancellation. Some state regulators (i.e., California and New York) require digital subscription vendors with an online registration process to offer customers an online cancel option. And most consumers (60%) also favor an online cancellation option.

Interestingly, almost one-third (32%) of this audience changed their mind about canceling a service after being offered an incentive. Of those who did not cancel their service(s), the incentives included:

  • 49% discount;
  • 28% account credit;
  • 26% pause plan;
  • 25% downgrade;
  • 22% skip payments;
  • 21% switch product or plan; and
  • 20% partner offering or bundling.

It turns out that cancellation is a big part of the consumer satisfaction equation. In terms of providing the best cancellation experience, Netflix ranks highest at 23%. Amazon Prime places second with 10% of participants’ vote.

Streaming subscription services offer a strong DTC distribution channel for digital content companies. They also offer new consumer engagement opportunities. And, according to Gartner, by 2023, three-quarters  of DTC businesses will offer a subscription service but only 20% will succeed in customer retention. Growth is critical, but a positive overall experience — even cancellation —  factor into keeping the customer satisfied and keeping the customer in the long term.  

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