As video streaming continues its quest to rule the TV world and viewers keep shifting their viewing preferences towards digital platforms, the industry is undergoing rapid changes. With this change, traditional operators are keenly uplifting their services to meet constantly changing user expectations. We are also seeing the rise of direct-to-audience services from media companies. Most online broadcasters are adopting brand new technologies with the hope to attract new customers and retain the existing ones. With streaming wars getting fiercer, the industry is to witness a lot in 2020.
The VOD streaming industry is already saturated and the number of media giants entering the space every year is going to turn the market into a veritable battlespace. Apple TV+ and Disney + have already made their entry and NBCU has officially announced its Peacock platform and Warner Media’s HBO Max is about to make its grand entry as well.
As we get ready for this highly competitive era, there rise major questions about the future of video on demand, and which platforms will make it to the finals. For every big media brand in the headlines, there are several small VOD services that are competing for the same attention from the target audience. These small VOD players might have a big budget and stardom, but they have unique offerings that would cater and appeal to niche audiences. This blog is a comprehensive guide for new VOD providers to successfully thrive in the competitive market. Let’s get started.
3 things VOD providers need to attract subscribers amidst streaming wars
With the explosive growth of video streaming, more and more businesses are hopping on to the streaming bandwagon. While the competition is getting fiercer, it’s possible for all VOD services, both small and large to compete and thrive in the industry. However, it needs careful planning and a well-made strategy to survive and possibly thrive in the industry eliminating friction. Here are the 3 major things VOD players need to thrive amidst fierce streaming wars.
Amazing niche content
Content represents everything in the front line of the video streaming war happening in the market. It’s one area where VOD players are throwing around plenty of money. For example, original content is where Netflix spends all of its money in terms of production and promotion.
Netflix spends over $12 billion every year on its original content. It is reported that Apple has invested $6 billion, while Disney will be investing around $1 billion by this year to complement its existing library of Pixar, Disney, and 20th century Fox titles. At the same time, HBO Max has spent over $425 million to make Friends a part of its platform.
With that said, it is not mandatory for new VOD services to invest in a similar amount, but they need to make sure they have original content that will attract new subscribers. Whether you are hosting licensed programs or original content, all video streaming platforms need to find the right balance.
Viewers must not only be able to find engaging content; they must be able to watch it without interruption as well. During the ongoing streaming war, viewers are shifting from Cable TV to digital TV, and mostly consuming video streaming services on their smartphones on the go. Research shows that an average user views over 40 minutes of video on mobile phones every day. However, mobile connectivity is often affected by slow start times, buffering issues, and failed ad loads.
However, these issues are rarely the fault of streaming services and more often caused due to spotty Wi-Fi or poor signals. Even the streaming giant Apple that has a major hardware advantage over other streaming players would fall victim to these problems.
This is applicable to in-home viewership too. A majority of video on demand viewers still want to watch the big shows like sports events live as they air. Hence, any lag can hamper the viewer’s experience, regardless of the cause. Any type of delay or lag can kill the viewing experience of your target audience. Viewers generally don’t choose VOD services due to its playback capabilities, but they will very likely cancel their subscriptions if they keep experiencing playback issues. As the streaming competition amp up in the industry, it is very important for video streaming services to eliminate this friction and ensure their content is available without any buffering and delays. Collaborate with a VOD Service Provider to use a content delivery network (CDN) for your VOD platform to render your subscribers a quicker and better viewing experience.
Choosing the best revenue model
A business model is what powers every video streaming service. That is why it is extremely important for VOD players to choose the best revenue model to power their business. One of the biggest mistakes VOD players do today is to simply adopt the business models of industry giants thinking it would suit them. Do you think Netflix would be Netflix if it offered access to its content to viewers along with advertisements? Or if YouTube started charging for each video you watch on its platform, would it be able to find the same success it enjoying now? The decision of choosing a revenue model for your business must be greatly influenced by your business requirements and goals, instead of its popularity.
To help you zero down your choices, here are some of the popular video on demand revenue models existing in the market.
Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD)
The most popular business model followed by most VOD providers is the subscription on demand revenue model. Streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime follow this business model. In this revenue model, you access your content to viewers for a recurring fee paid on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.
SVOD services also offer viewers the flexibility to cancel their subscriptions any time. This contrasts with traditional cable TV that normally locks down customers for long term contracts. SVOD services make it easy for customers to subscribe and unsubscribe whenever they want to.
Advertisement Video On Demand (AVOD)
Another popular business model is the ad-supported video on demand where the VOD providers offer free access to viewers to view their content but insert ads in between. YouTube is the most popular VOD platform that offers this type of service to viewers.
Transactional Video On Demand (TVOD)
Transactional video on demand model or pay per view model is the type of business model where you offer access to each piece of content for a price. For example, users have to pay for each piece of content they want to watch. The prime example of this type of business model is iTunes. YouTube and Amazon prime video also follow a hybrid monetization model where users can pay for each show or movie they want to watch individually along with other revenue models.
10 effective tips for a successful video streaming business
Now that we have discussed the 3 core things every VOD player needs to follow to compete in the ongoing streaming wars, let’s look into the other aspects of running a successful VOD business. Here are some of the handy tips that will help you to establish yourself in the VOD market.
Whether you are newly launching your VOD business in the market or already been in the industry for quite some time now, the key to success is differentiation. Instead of having thousands of hours of programming, focus on delivering a content library that is relevant to a core audience.
Exclusivity is great
While differentiation is good, exclusivity is great. If your VOD platform is home to content that is not otherwise available anywhere, that set of audience will follow you.
Understand your audience
What do you know about the people who access your content library actually matters. If you have strong analytics and reporting, you will be able to deliver a great experience to viewers. Your content can be incredible, but if you are not reaching out to the relevant audience, it is going to be hard to find new subscribers or retain them.
Find a dependable source of in-depth data
It is important to have a dependable source of data, especially for small VOD players. If you are a smaller player, it is really important to hyper-focus on your target audience. Finding your audience, their viewing preferences, etc. is a massive challenge amid all the competition for their attention, but you will have to search widely for them.
Once you have collected valuable user data, get granular. Go deep on your data, down to a level where you understand why a particular user watches a particular show. Specific shows are more likely to attract niche subscribers, so you need to understand why they choose your VOD platform. That is why Netflix put so much effort to track the first show a new subscriber chooses to watch. You also have to adopt the same approach. The deeper you can understand your customers, the more you can tell how they are engaging with your platform. This will help you to deliver your customers exactly what they want in terms of the viewing experience.
Offer them more of what they prefer to watch
Netflix has long used customer data like viewing preferences, history, and demographics to offer your viewers more of what they want. For example, the industry giant uses its analytics tool to display different short trailers for the same movie depending on the previous watching habits of customers. Even if your video on demand solution isn’t that sophisticated, you still have to personalize the feeds of customers to create a great immersive experience that encourages them to indulge in binge-watching.
Create a unified community
If you are thinking about how to create a video on demand website, focus on launching a VOD platform which is essentially a unified community. Keep communicating with your community. You can use social media networks, press relations, partnerships, influencer collaborations, advertising, etc. Another solution is to run a crowdfunding campaign that not only helps to find your initial funding, but will allow you to start a community and gather your first audience group if you are new to the industry.
Analyzing the competition in the market to understand the type of VOD services your competitors offer. Keep track of their business strategy and the content they are acquiring or investing in. This allows you to identify gaps in your own content mix and launch a niche video on demand platform. For instance, Netflix acquired exclusive content rights to make its platform home to the American crime drama series, Narcos because no other VOD platform was hosting a similarly popular series in this genre at that time.
Understand and compare your content mix with that of your direct competitors to limit duplicate content as much as possible. This is because there is no point in offering the same content another VOD player who is already leading the industry offers to your target audience. Additionally, assess your competitor’s business model to strategize your pricing and make compelling offers to your viewers.
Use data to grow your business
Customer data is essential to promote your content and generate revenue with your services as it gives valuable insights about your potential customers. By combining certain information in the right way, big data will help you gain insights about your audience that gives you the key to reach your audience right where they are. No matter its power, data is useless if you don’t leverage it the right way. Gathering a lot of data is one thing and using it wisely is another. Choose your service provider who offers built-in automation tools that allows you to gather the right piece of customer information.
Decide on your goals
Finding what counts as a success for your VOD streaming service is not easy. Especially when the metrics that measure success vary depending on business goals. For example, Apple gave away 250 million free accounts to customers as Apple TV+ will make its smartphones and digital devices deliver more value to users. Disney+ has competitively priced its services at $6.99 per month to promote its $12,99 bundle options of Disney+ Hulu, and ESPN+. Likewise, you need to figure out your business goal, whether it is to earn a large audience or a highly engaged, but small audience.
Decide between choosing a video on demand solution and building your own platform
You could either choose to create your own VOD streaming platform or choose a comprehensive video on demand platform provider which enables launching your VOD platform instantly. If you are thinking of building your own VOD platform, you need to consider factors like investing in developing your website from scratch. If not, choose the best video on demand solution that focuses on your core competency which is mainly creating and maintaining your content catalog.
The video streaming market is still nascent and can look highly competitive. But, it is also the largest global media opportunity that you can leverage to grow your business. That is exactly why VOD providers need a well-planned business strategy to power their services. Great programming might bring in more subscriptions to your VOD platform, but it’s only by committing to unique content, eliminating friction, and choosing the best business model, VOD players will be able to compete and survive in the industry.