The Big Reveal: How To Keep Video Subscribers Loyal

HBO's “Game of Thrones” came to an end May 19 after eight years. With 13.6 million viewers tuning in live and 19.3 million total viewers, it is the most-watched HBO show ever.

But a new Axios/Harris poll conducted after the "GOT" finale aired found 16% of HBO subscribers plan to cancel their subscriptions now that the show is over.

Consumers have a greater than 30% likelihood of canceling a subscription streaming service after a show or series ends.

That finding brings us to the state of subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) channels, which is how I consume television these days.

In the last few months, various studies have examined why people subscribe to streaming video channels and why they continue or cancel the services.

Half of the Gen Z respondents from the Axios survey said they intend to cancel their account after watching a specific or exclusive video at signup. That number drops with each age bracket: for millennials it's 45%, while for Gen X it is 36% and Boomers come in at 32%.



It's likely this churn is not exclusive to video streaming services, but other subscription services that allow users to cancel their subscriptions online at any time.

Another study, commissioned by business-to-consumer digital services monetization company Vindicia from nScreenMedia, found that 70% of U.S. households pay for at least one SVOD channel.

The average American subscriber watches 3.4 services. Each one costs an average $8.53 per month. That would total a monthly bill of $29, about a third less than the average monthly cable bill of $107. Deloitte's annual Digital Media Trends survey found that 43% of U.S. consumers subscribe to both pay-TV and streaming services.

The big question: Why do people leave streaming services?

The top two reasons, per Vidicia: Users did not find the service a good value and they did not find enough content they liked. Interesting content is the deal-breaker between stay and go.

High-quality original content drives subscriptions. Some 57% of all current U.S. streaming consumers (and 71% of millennials) say they subscribe to streaming video services to access original content, notes Deloitte.

This explains why Netflix is pouring millions into producing original content. (The study found Netflix users are less likely than average to have canceled service over the past year. Hulu users are slightly more likely.)

The more content, the more chances a consumer will find something they like, right?

Now factor in “decision fatigue.”

Finding something to watch on a streaming service can take the duration of a show's episode! All the content categories and auto-playing trailers can be woefully distracting.

I'm not alone in my frustration. Deloitte, which collected findings from an online survey of 2,003 consumers from December 2018 to February 2019, found that nearly half (49%) of consumers said the amount of content available on SVOD channels makes it hard to choose what to watch.

Some 69% of the time, consumers know what they want to watch. But 48% say content is hard to find across multiple services. Another 49% give up on searching for content if they can't find it in a few minutes.

Remember, there are over 300 over-the-top video streaming services available in the U.S. What about the issue of "subscription fatigue"?

Nearly half (47%) of U.S. consumers are frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions and services required to watch what they want. That has ramifications for pay TV.

Deloitte found 75% of consumers say they would be more satisfied with pay-TV service if there were fewer ads, and 77% said ads on pay TV should be under 10 seconds.

Bottom line: The largest pay-TV providers lost about 2.9 million video subscribers in 2018, nearly double the 1.5 million subscriber losses in 2017, according to Leichtman Research Group.

Hopefully, lesson learned.

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