Prevent price-driven cancellations with Offer Downgrades

Anna Sobiak | Wed Jan 25 2023 | Industry insights


As the OTT subscription landscape is approaching maturity, broadcasters must think outside the box to tackle churn and increase subscriber LTV. 

In this article, we explore some actionable ways to re-engage subscribers on the brink of dropout due to pricing.


The post-pandemic subscription reversal trend

While the pandemic era witnessed a significant surge in OTT subscriptions, the present times indicate an SVOD trend transition.

Following exceptional growth over the last couple of years, streaming giant Netflix made headlines earlier in 2022 by losing out on 200K and 970K subscribers in two consecutive quarters. They got the entire industry talking and re-examining the trajectory of media broadcasters. Statistically speaking,

  • A Whip Media Survey covering leading streaming platforms confirmed that 32% of customers canceled at least one of their SVOD subscriptions over the last twelve months. This number rose by 12 points this year, and most platforms under study felt it. Not a single platform confirmed any decrease in their cancellation rates compared to last year.

However, this mustn’t be understood as a grim reality for the media and entertainment industry. Consumers continue to demand SVOD.

  • A Digital Media Trends release by Deloitte confirmed that while 37% was their average churn rate estimation in SVOD services, 25% of the churned users re-subscribed to the same streaming service within a year.  

This points to a fertile market that's here to stay, but is somewhat undergoing a transition. 


What’s guiding the winds of change in OTT?

  • Media and broadcasting subscribers have turned savvier when evaluating their streaming options. They now compare content and value proposition across different OTT platforms and consciously choose to pay for those providing the best value and choices.

  • Customers are turning more price conscious. This is well-validated by Netflix's plummeting subscriber base since their price increase. If today’s subscribers don’t see value to fit the price tag, they will cancel or switch to other platforms.


  • Furthermore, as whispers of a recession and inflationary trends make their way into conversations, people have started re-evaluating and optimizing their monthly expenditures. Per estimates, people have been spending an extra $133 monthly on subscriptions without realizing it. As budgets get re-examined to reduce expenses, canceling additional subscriptions is a natural outcome.

How to prevent churn 

In such a scenario, optimizing the streaming experience and perceived customer value is essential to tackle churn. 

Playing around with the content choices on any streaming platform or rewiring the overall user experience is a relatively structural and long-term decision. On the other hand, experimenting with pricing packages can be a quicker, potent way to arrest voluntary churn and enhance the value perception. A good place to leverage that possibility is during a subscriber’s cancellation experience.


The starting point to implement that is first to ascertain which group is likely to leave and work on re-engaging those customers for retention. Cleeng’s Churn Prediction capabilities specifically help to uncover the key drivers of churn at the right time. Once you have that intelligence beforehand, you can devise strategic plans and set up campaign triggers during the cancellation flow to engage them and reverse churning.

If that doesn’t work to re-engage the subscriber, you have one more chance to convince them before they churn: the cancellation stage.


Here are some ideas to reverse voluntary churn at the subscription cancellation stage

     1.  Empowering subscribers to downgrade instead of canceling

You must understand that customers agree or disagree with pricing based on their perceived value. Usually, in the streaming market, people feel the value of a streaming provider has fallen if they find the service too expensive or they're unhappy with the content options provided.

For instance, people often subscribe when the newest season of their favorite show is back and hit unsubscribe once they’ve finished watching the series. For retaining such subscribers, offering flexible pricing plans with the seamless ability to upgrade or downgrade can be beneficial. Downgrade offers can especially keep the more price-conscious customers by allowing access to your platform at a lower price with some reduced perks.

With Cleeng’s Subscription Upgrade & Downgrade feature, you can create a popup to appear after the customer clicks unsubscribe. Downgrade retention offers  are configured on every offer individually. This provides the ultimate flexibility and precise configuration that can fulfill any business need.


See below an example of how this offer may appear:

downgrade offers

With this personalized feature, you can make the cancellation process subscriber-friendly, whilst also creating an opportunity to re-engage customers at the brink of cancellation. Rescue your subscribers from the cancellation funnel by reminding them of their alternative options.


     2.  Offer discount coupons for continued custom

For customers looking to cancel despite the option of or a downgrade, it’s worth making another attempt to keep them back before they bid goodbye.

At this point, you can get creative to offer promotional discounts or free usage coupons for a certain number of days to make them stay on. Who knows, maybe you can convince them to change their mind before the free offer period expires!


     3.  Make the most of churn with a detailed subscription cancellation survey

As a last resort, if you cannot prevent the customer from canceling, you can still make the most of this with a detailed cancellation survey

Cleeng’s Subscriber Management System, Core, allows you to create your own cancellation survey with questions oriented to your needs. Find out what element of your service is associated with most churners, to optimize your platform. And better yet, use this information as part of a winback campaign to re-engage churned customers on your platform.


Retain subscribers with flexible pricing

The OTT landscape is going through the winds of change. Customers are turning price conscious while enjoying a variety of streaming choices. In this scenario, a meaningful pricing proposition is key to retaining a loyal subscriber base. 

Instead of going for flat, cookie-cutter pricing, it works best to provide attractive offers and flexibility in the form of easy downgrades or upgrades to stay on.


Check out our guide to effectively navigate SVOD price changes for maximum subscriber retention.

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