How to Pick a Subscriber Management Solution for Your OTT Business

Kirstin White | Wed Aug 23 2023 | Industry insights


This guide, in short:

Switching subscriber management solutions is not something to take lightly, as it can have dire consequences for your business. In this guide, you’ll find crucial questions to ask yourself - and the companies you’re screening - to invest in the right solution for YOUR organization.

It covers (click to jump to the section):


Are you screening the market for a new subscriber management solution for your OTT company?

One thing’s clear, OTT companies that don’t try to exceed their audience’s expectations will suffer the consequences down the road and risk losing key market shares to competition.

In this comprehensive blog post, I’ll show you the ropes to find the right subscriber management solution to help you meet (and exceed) your objectives, may it be Cleeng or something else.

Let’s start with a burning thought you most definitely had in your search for a tool that would help your D2C subscription service grow: can you deal with it in-house?


Could you build your own subscriber management system from A to Z?

The short answer is yes. 

You could probably build an in-house solution, 100% tailored to your needs.

But should you, really?

Is your use case so unique?

Subscriber Management is complex enough for me to say with confidence that there’s no tool out there that will uncompromisingly meet your needs at 100%. So, it’s understandable that one may be after the perfect solution to meet their needs.

Having said that, I’d recommend taking a pen and paper and writing a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves to differentiate vital features such as predictive churn analysis from cosmetic features you could easily live without.


Consider development and maintenance costs

Then comes the cost of developing something as substantial as your own subscriber management system.

Should you spend hundreds of hours building a tool that’s not your core business? And I’m not even counting the heavy maintenance, which, over time, is something you’ll need thousands of hours for, or the ongoing need for security checks, audits, and updates to future-proof your system and ensure your customers’ data is safe.

The alternative is to trust a third-party partner to worry about this for you so that you can focus on your core business: giving your subscribers a good time.

If you establish that partnering with a subscriber management solution (SMS) provider is the way forward, there are a few more questions to ask to pick the right one for your organization.


How well can the platform support your growth?

Can the platform grow with you?

OTT subscriber management platforms are quite sticky (as in, OTT companies don’t change providers every other year).

For this reason, it is crucial to consider scalability to ensure that you end up with a system that can meet your current and future needs.

Without scalability, you’ll quickly outgrow the capabilities of your current tools and start looking for another partner.

"The biggest highlight for us is that it's a true partnership. In any true partnership, it's a collaborative process with a common goal to make the product shine and grow your business. I think there's no better example of that than Cleeng."

— Ari Brock, Executive Director Digital at Tennis Channel

Read about how Tennis Channel achieved 640% growth in 5 years.


Can you operate the platform without guidance?

The right subscriber retention management solution for your business shouldn’t require a Ph.D. in applied data science to be used correctly.

There’s nothing more frustrating than having to bother colleagues or pick up the phone to call support to do something utterly simple, such as edit the hard-coded layout of a page or export data from an obscure back-end.

It’s time-consuming.

It’s not rewarding.

The Subscriber Management tool you end up choosing should give you and your OTT team a chance to be autonomous.

At Cleeng, we believe that the best OTT teams have the freedom to be completely autonomous.

Which doesn’t mean they are on their own.

Being autonomous means you can evolve on your own but also know when to ask for help (and when you do, we’re here to support you).


Does it come with a dedicated team to support you and help you grow?

The right SRM™ solution should be reasonably easy-to-use. - but this doesn’t mean you’re alone.

Ensure you can rely on a team of experts to assist you in brainstorming or setting up advanced campaigns to attract and retain subscribers.

“The Cleeng team are absolute professionals; they know exactly what their product can achieve and how it can be adapted to meet the requirements of RED. Through their personalized support, we’re getting expert assistance for the RED platform to guarantee a seamless experience for our subscribers.”

— Alain D. Birchler, Subscription Project Manager, Ringier Sports.

Read more on RED.Sport’s 360-degree view of their customer base with a full SRM™ suite.

Using Data Effectively for Next-Level Subscriber Retention


How compatible is the solution with your internal processes?

Can it integrate seamlessly into your tech stack?

Implementing a new subscriber management system is heavy, especially when it means migrating hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of accounts from your legacy system.


For this reason, it’s paramount that your new subscriber management platform can integrate seamlessly with your existing ecosystem.

Not only will this save you countless headaches, but it will also drastically cut the implementation time.

“We had a really tight timeline, it was done in two and a half weeks, so it was pretty amazing. It proves that Cleeng were ready and got a really good understanding of what we needed, and they delivered”.

Levan Gvaramia, Chief Product Officer Setanta Sports Eurasia


Does it meet your security requirements?

Having said that, there are certifications and regulations all platform providers should meet to guarantee the safety of your data.

At Cleeng, we go to great lengths to ensure our data privacy and security meet international standards to provide the highest quality service possible. We pride ourselves on being compliant with the following: 

  • CCPA - California Consumer Privacy Act.
  • GDPR - General Data Protection Regulation for the European Union residents.
  • PSD2 - Payment Services Directive 2.
  • PCI DSS - Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.
  • SOC2 - Service Organization Control.

Learn more about Cleeng’s compliance and security.


Can it handle VAT and tax for the regions you cover?

If you’re based in the US or are operating in multiple countries, you know too well that VAT and tax management can be a real challenge.

This is yet again a vital feature that not all solutions on the market offer. Cleeng does.

“Payment processing is extremely valuable to us. With the introduction of the handling of tax, it is even more valuable. The improvements in the reporting are welcome. The interface is much easier to understand and download data in an expedited manner.”

Samantha Amaral, Manager of Broadcast and OTT Operations, OUTtv

Find out how OUTtv utilizes easy reporting & tax management with Cleeng.

Cleeng Merchant’s deep integration with leading providers like Adyen and PayPal means that over 160 international markets are accessible right out of the box, with 18 languages supported.

Learn more about Cleeng Merchant.


Can it help you create a premium customer experience

How well does it handle checkout on all devices?

While it’s rarely the first step in their journey, checkout is of the utmost importance for your prospective subscribers.

Your OTT ecosystem should give mobile, tablet, desktop, or Smart TV users a premium experience, from login to checkout and beyond.

When scouting for a solution, make sure payment features and integrations are flexible and fail-proof, or you will regret it later.


Does it offer high-end customer support?

Your customers and prospective subscribers will always try to reach out with questions such as:

  • How many people can log in at the same time
  • What’s your auto-renewal policy
  • Why can’t I log in right now?
  • Why is the image pixelated?
  • Etc.

While you most likely have an FAQ somewhere on your website, you likely receive a LOT of questions from users and visitors. And, unless you can afford teams of dozens of people available at all times per location to deal with live questions, you’re probably sitting on a ridiculous backlog of questions with a simple answer.

A solution to this is AI.

For instance, we at Cleeng have developed Hi5, a cloud-based, AI-enhanced customer care service that already helps our customers delight their subscribers with premium and quick service.

  1. It’s 24/7 
  2. It speaks 29 languages.
  3. It lets you analyze customer bottlenecks, traffic jams, and pain points in real-time via an easy-to-read dashboard.

Overall, it helps your OTT team go the extra mile and give your subscribers the attention they deserve.


Can it help you with customer retention?

Does it come with advanced subscriber retention features?

As churn rates keep growing, customer retention is one of the most important use cases for OTT companies.

To maximize your ROI, we strongly recommend only considering a tool with advanced retention features, such as the possibility to:

  • analyze subscribers' behavior and segment at-risk profiles
  • access easy-to-read dashboards to quickly report on retention
  • run win-back campaigns.

Cleeng has you covered on that end with ChurnIQ.

ChurnIQ gives you specialized retention analytics and AI-powered subscriber insights.


ChurnIQ learns from churning customers and segments at-risk subscribers so that you can quickly trigger engaging campaigns to reduce churn effectively and support your organization’s growth.

Learn more about ChurnIQ.


Can it help you fight seasonal churn?

If someone subscribes to a service to watch a specific show or sports season, what happens when the season ends?

There are (essentially) two scenarios to consider.

Option 1: They churn.

This is something most broadcasters struggle with. Back in 2019, HBO saw their churn rate double right after the final episode of Game of Thrones.


The same can be said for sports broadcasters.

  • How do you keep F1 fans around during the long winter seasonal break? 
  • How do you keep football fans hooked after the Super Bowl?

Option 2: They stick around for next season.

For companies like Netflix, HBO, or Disney+, a solution is to create more original content and play with the calendar so subscribers always have quality content to watch.

For sports broadcasters, the challenge is more significant. Getting subscribers to stick around after the adrenaline rush from a season finale is not easy, and you can only live so long from mashups and best-ofs.

An interesting solution for sports broadcasters is to offer subscribers a chance to pause their subscriptions during the season break.

Wait, what?

Hear me out. 

On the one hand, broadcasters always lose fans in between seasons. On the other hand, Americans already spend a monthly average of $48 on video streaming services, and Deloitte reveals half of them say it’s too much. With ever-growing competition, subscribers have to make choices and only keep the services they actually use, as opposed to always subscribing for more.


By offering subscribers the chance to pause their subscriptions instead of canceling them, you ensure that they will return as soon as the new season starts. At the same time, it’s fair to assume your hardcore fans will likely stick around to consume the original content pushed during the break.

Learn more about how Cleeng helps D2C companies fight seasonal churn with a PAUSE button.


Is the pricing fair and transparent?

If available features should motivate your choice, the price also matters.

We can’t speak for other Subscriber Management platform providers, but we believe that transparency is key to building strong and long-lasting relationships.

This is why we use pricing that scales with your actual situation and needs


Check our pricing model here.


The right SRM™ partner for your OTT platform is out there…

Can it help you create a premium customer experience

…, and something tells us Cleeng could be a match.

If you’re in the process of screening solutions, book a chat with us, and let’s assess whether we’re a match - or not - to help your D2C subscription service grow.


Using Data Effectively for Next-Level Subscriber Retention


Cleeng SRM Product