OTT Seasonal Churn: How to Keep Sports Fans Engaged All Year Long

Kirstin White | Fri Aug 18 2023 | Industry insights

OTT Seasonal Churn How to Keep Sports Fans Engaged All Year Long

OTT sports streaming is emerging as an exciting playground for broadcasters. 

In fact, Parks Associates’ latest research estimates that annual streaming subscription revenue from sports will likely increase by 73% over the next five years. The bullish sentiment is already visible in the ecosystem. While Amazon is streaming Thursday Night Football on Prime Video, Apple is coming up with Major League Soccer (MLS). 

Amidst the exciting times and the optimism around sports, what’s necessary for succeeding as a broadcaster is not overlooking OTT seasonal churn. After all, it’s directly linked to bottom-line success and growth. 

So, what can you do to tackle this, and how?

Read on to explore why you need to keep your sports fans engaged and learn actionable ways to tackle OTT seasonal churn on your streaming platform.

The reality of seasonality and sports fans

Sporting events, by nature, are organized as seasons and tournaments that occur at specific times of the calendar year. Certain events naturally attract a more significant viewership among sports enthusiasts passionate about their game of choice, with a relatively lower demand during the off-season period for that game. 

Does this mean you need to accept seasonality and high churn rates as a given in the sports streaming business?

Not exactly.

Working on smoothening out this pattern of demand fluctuation lies in your best interest as a broadcaster. After all, keeping sports viewers engaged all year long translates into benefits such as:

  • Stable and recurring revenue,
  • Not having to run costly, time-consuming win-back campaigns,
  • Increased customer loyalty, and, in turn, lifetime revenue.

Read More: The Correlation Between Subscriber Churn and Lifetime Value


So how can sports OTT companies keep sports fans engaged in-between seasons?

There’s quite a bit you can do, which includes:


1. Build the ultimate experience for your fans

The streaming experience that you offer your customers factors significantly into their engagement rates. 

With the rising sports streaming competition and the many OTT channels to watch sporting events, you need to go the extra mile to ensure your viewers are engaged and don’t switch loyalty to your competitors between seasons. This is possible by covering your bases around the following:

  • Streaming high-quality videos for both live and recorded matches
  • Providing a user-friendly streaming interface and navigation option
  • Offering multi-device streaming options across mobiles, desktops, or Smart TV
  • Personalizing user experience by giving the option to create playlists, watchlists, and the ability to follow specific sports or events.
  • Extending reliable and prompt omnichannel customer support

Find out: How does Flow Sports improve its user experience?


2. Fight seasonal churn with seasonal subscriptions

Meet one of our best features to date to fight seasonal churn - Seasonal Subscriptions


With seasonal subscriptions, sports OTT broadcasters can beat the limitations of sports seasonality and grow their customer LTV.

In short, they make it possible to:

  • Sell season tickets and auto-renew when a new seasons start to increase subscriber retention between seasons without running costly win-back campaigns each year.
  • Increase customer acquisition throughout the season with dynamic pricing.

Learn more about our Seasonal Subscriptions features.


3. Go beyond streaming prime-time sports content

Streaming only prime-time content can restrict your sports streaming platform’s viewership to just the viewers interested in high-profile sports events and popular leagues in your region.

This can put you at a high risk of OTT seasonal churn

On the contrary, if you offer your viewers access to niche or less mainstream sports, you enable a broader segment of sports enthusiasts to follow their favorite global teams and athletes. To provide this, you can consider partnering with other companies and expanding your sports content library. Doing so can create a more inclusive and diverse sports viewing experience.  

Moreover, by offering the flexibility of accessing replays, highlights, and archived content, you can empower your subscribers to watch games of their choice, irrespective of time zones. This way, they can catch up on missed matches or moments at their convenience and stay engaged with your subscription service beyond peak seasons.


Using Data Effectively for Next-Level Subscriber Retention


4. Stay in constant contact with your OTT subscribers

Being in contact with your sports viewers is a time-tested strategy to understand your viewers’ mindset and, at the same time, develop a strong connection

Strive to connect with fans both during games and in the lean period in between to ensure continued engagement. Some ways to experiment with for staying connected include:

  • Integrate interactive features like live chats, polls, and interactive overlays during games to engage with fans in real time. 
  • Crowdsource content on social media with options for users to share their favorite moments, comment on matches, and connect with other sports enthusiasts.
  • Create content around player profiles and access to exclusive content, interviews, or behind-the-scenes footage
  • Send out regular updates on upcoming sports content, game, and sports news. You can also allow viewers to customize their preferences, such as favorite teams, athletes, or leagues, to receive relevant recommendations and notifications.
  • Be available for them if and when they have questions. In other words, you need a responsive customer care service to tackle all concerns and worries before they become problems.

Find out: BKFC's Winning Formula for Keeping Subscribers Engaged & Happy


5. Utilize bundling and subscription options

According to a recent study by consultancy outfit Simon-Kucher, price is the most important purchase criterion for consumers signing up for a streaming subscription offering, followed by the breadth of content available. 

This applies to sports content as much as other content. Factor this aspect around valuable pricing, and you’ll see your engagement levels change for the better.

As a broadcaster, you must understand that when you offer a combination of cost savings, content variety, and convenience, your subscription offering naturally becomes more attractive. Bundling is a great way to get that result, and is lately turning quite popular in the OTT space. It’s a great way to win enhanced customer loyalty, regardless of season. 


6. Design compelling incentives and promotions

Offering incentives like discounts, exclusive access, or other rewards also engages subscribers and encourages them to stay loyal, even outside the peak sports season

To increase their engagement, you can push promotions for upcoming sports content or special offers related to your OTT service. Developing incentives that reward subscribers for their commitment to your OTT service is a proven way to win customer loyalty and reverse OTT seasonal churn. You can design such programs to provide additional benefits to your subscribers, such as access to

  • exclusive discount coupons, early bird discounts, and loyalty benefits. 
  • early content access
  • behind-the-scenes footage or interviews

Moreover, if you find previously engaged subscribers losing momentum, you can also work towards re-engaging them to prevent cancellation. Usually, having a 360-degree overview of your customer base is a good starting point to identify those at risk and take suitable measures at the right time.

Read More: RED. Sport has a 360-degree view of the customer base with a full SRM™ suite. 


7. Tackle involuntary churn

Lastly, ensuring robust billing systems to drive smooth checkout is integral to ensuring continued sports fan engagement. You incur avoidable losses if you fail to keep interested subscribers in the fold due to loopholes in your billing system. In that sense, maintaining smooth checkout with strong dunning capabilities is critical to keeping fans engaged all year by eliminating involuntary churn.


Bottom Line: Go the extra mile to keep your subscribers engaged

Engaged streaming subscribers are the antidote to the perils of OTT seasonal churn

To make it happen, you must channel your best efforts to build the ultimate streaming experience for your subscribers, for each and every touchpoint with your service.. At the same time, making sure you stream beyond prime-time content and offer valuable subscription packages and loyalty benefits is also needed to keep that engagement alive. 

Now, relying on seasonal subscriptions is probably the main game-changer to drastically reduce seasonal churn for OTT broadcasters. In a saturated market, you can prevent cord-cutting by giving subscribers more value for their money. So, if you're looking for the right subscriber retention management platform for your Sports OTT company, you may want to ensure this is a possibility. 

Finally, a common pitfall is losing engaged subscribers at the last stage due to outdated payment systems and involuntary churn.

Discover what it takes to retain today's OTT consumer: Learn more about Seasonal Subscriptions

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