How Streaming Services Will Hook You For the Long Haul





remote pointing at tv

Streaming services go through a lot of trouble to get you to sign up for the service, whether it’s through advertisements, promotional offers, or bundles with other partners. But the priority now is more about getting you to stick around.

“It’s all about retention,” said Archana Anand, chief business officer of ZEE5 Global, which offers Indian programming through a streaming service available in the U.S. “Every waking hour as a business, I’m ensuring I’m managing the leaky bucket and ensuring i’m retaining my consumers.”

That sentiment is doubly important now as consumers increasingly reassess whether they really need all of those streaming services — many of which they signed up for during the pandemic — in the face of rising prices and a wealth of free, ad-supported content that’s available elsewhere. The comments from Anand, whose company is a smaller streaming player going after a more niche audience, offers insight into the broader concerns and aims of streaming executives everywhere.

While free, ad-supported platforms seem to be having their moment, Anand said she preferred the subscription model because she has more access to customer data.

“I have an innate belief that consumers are willing to pay for content,” she said. “If you have the content, they will come to you and they will pay.”

Anand was speaking on a panel hosted by the NAB Show, which posted a video of the session that also included Gio Punzo, CEO of creator platform Streann Media, Brian Rifkin, co-founder and senior vice president of partnerships for JW Player, and moderator Barry Tishgart, a former executive at Disney steaming who worked on ESPN+.

Anand said customers switching between services are largely about people following certain shows or movies. The trick is to offer a slate of programming throughout the year to get them to commit to signing up for the year. She pointed to RRR, an Indian action epic that exploded into the mainstream thanks to Netflix. She noted that the film drove people to ZEE5 to get the native-language version.

“When you have content of that sort, we ensure that we sell it as part of an annual package,” she said. “If you’re tactical in the way you drop a content and bundle it with an annual pack or quarterly pack, consumers will pay for it.”

Her comments fall in line with a Deloitte study that predicted streaming services will focus on things like premium add-ons and bund/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////les that ensure more annual subscriptions vs. month to month.

The idea of streaming services using content to draw in audiences isn’t new. Netflix has done it by investing billions into original content, prompting competitors like Disney, Comcast’s NBC (though Peacock), Paramount (through Paramount+ and Showtime) and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max to follow suit. But the strategy of spending liberally on shows and movies has cost these media companies, resulting in many pulling back.

That doesn’t mean content isn’t important anymore. Punzo noted that sports continues to be a huge driver of interest, noting that the World Cup drove a 400% increase in data usage on its platform.

Anand noted that the Indian Premier League cricket season draws huge numbers, but the turnover spikes when the last game is played. The trick, she said, is making sure there’s quality content year around.

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