Challenges Subscription Video Services Must Overcome for Success

The technology to distribute video content to a global audience has become cheaper and more accessible than ever before. As a result, there’s a real opportunity for anyone with a video library and a desire to bring their content to an online audience. However, just because it’s become easier to launch a subscription video service, success is never a guarantee. These are the most significant challenges that content owners must overcome in order to launch, build and grow a successful subscription video business:

1. Differentiating Your Brand and Content

The initial challenge of launching an SVOD service is determining whether your content and brand have what it takes to be successful in an increasingly competitive market. What’s going to set your service apart from others?

Overcoming this challenge:

Clearly define your brand and identify what sets 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. Learn more about the common characteristics of a successful video business, here.

2. Driving Brand Awareness

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. 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?

Overcoming this challenge:

Focus on your target audience and be wherever they exist online. Social media is a powerful tool for driving brand awareness and engaging with your current subscribers. Leverage platforms like Facebook to lead and encourage conversations around your content. Become a central part of your target audience’s online communities. Constantly remind them why they should subscribe, as well as reinforce the value of your service to your current subscribers.

3. Converting Your Viewers to Paid Subscribers

With so many other video services for consumers to choose from, one of the biggest challenges for video businesses is figuring out how to convert viewers on free, ad-supported channels to paid subscribers. What motivates a viewer to go from a freemium user to a premium subscriber?

Overcoming this challenge:

Although your marketing and promotional efforts will always remain key drivers of new subscriptions, there are other important factors that aren’t so straightforward. Ultimately your consumer’s decision to pay for a subscription comes down to cost and perceived value. 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, but it is key for building your subscriber growth.

4. Retaining Subscribers

Your subscribers fuel your business. 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.

Overcoming this challenge:

The best way to reduce churn and keep your existing customers is to simply listen to what they’re saying and respond quickly. If you keep the line of communication with your audience open, they’ll tell you exactly what is and isn’t working. Speed is crucial here, you must have the ability to adapt quickly to your audience's ever-evolving needs. It’s also imperative to keep your content library fresh. If your subscribers don’t have something new to watch, they won’t have any reason to continue paying for your service.

Your Journey to Success

These are the core challenges that every content owner faces as they launch and grow their subscription video service. Although it’s smart to plan for the roadblocks that you can anticipate, there will always be unexpected challenges that arise. Get tips from content owners who’ve been there before. Download the e-book Build, Launch, Grow to discover what unique challenges other SVOD services had to overcome along their journey to success, and more importantly—what they learned along the way.