7 Tips to Grow Your Video Streaming Service

Success for a streaming service hinges on audience acquisition and retention. Growth has to be a conscious effort. The “if you build it they will come” mindset is a mistake new streaming services cannot afford to make. Consistent growth in any industry rarely happens by accident, and in an increasingly competitive OTT marketplace, it is near impossible. Consumers are hungry for new content from brands in the verticals they care about – but getting their attention is not easy. Simply launching apps and expecting to see your channel rocket up each platform’s app store rankings is not going to happen.


Whether you have a million dollar marketing spend or a limited budget relying on hacks and hustle, being proactive about growth is the most important step you can take to ensure your streaming service thrives.


Unreel has helped guide the growth strategies for the hundreds of streaming services we power. From years of experience in the industry, these are the top factors we incorporate into every growth plan we help execute:


1. Be on every OTT end-point


In the world of streaming, if you’re not everywhere, you’re nowhere. The promise of OTT and the key reason why consumers are so quickly adopting it is it allows viewers to watch on the device that they find most convenient. If your streaming service is not on a potential fan’s preferred platform, then you are very likely to lose out on that user. Consumers assume if a streaming service is the real deal, then it will be available everywhere. Being on every platform exposes a streaming service to the largest audience, which means increased organic discovery, a higher chance the channel gets featured in an app store, and more opportunities for viral growth.


The marketing and promotional efforts around a streaming service are also fortified if it is on every platform. Rather than having to specifically target users of the exact devices it is on, and formulating copy and designs to reflect that limited reach; having the ubiquity of being on every platform means every person with a connected device (essentially everyone) is a potential user.


For more on why being everywhere is so important for streaming services, check out this blog post.


2. Lean on your fans


If your streaming service is built around an established brand or IP, you already have a leg up on the competition. Capitalizing on an eager audience who has expressed interest in content can be a major boon for growth. The cost and effort to convert a fan into a user on a streaming service is significantly less than any other method of advanced targeting would be.


Having a consistent and concentrated promotional push on the channels you communicate with your fan base will have a major impact on migrating them to your streaming service. Posting on social media, sending emails, and communicating directly anywhere else your fans congregate with a constant barrage of trailers, scenes, and descriptions of new content as it debuts is as low cost – high impact as it can get for marketing.


3. Native advertising


The cost to acquire a user on OTT is in many cases undervalued. Most OTT platforms offer native advertising placements that convert well, with one click-to-install functionality. The majority of streaming services that understand the lifetime value of a user will find that the customer acquisition cost of native ads likely makes economic sense for them. It becomes a simple arbitrage equation; pay X to gain a user via ads, that user generates Y in revenue over Z time period.


Through A/B testing, and running hundreds of campaigns, we have found each OTT platform’s promotional offerings to have unique intricacies and varying levels of effectiveness; however, most are well worth the cost and effort to implement.


4. Deep linking


The app discovery experience on OTT can be hacked. Organic search is an extremely powerful driver of growth for streaming services, particularly ones with an AVOD business model, with lower barriers to try and use. App stores are becoming bloated on most OTT platforms and discovery through happenstance browsing is not how the majority of people find new apps. Most consumers are opening app stores with a specific channel or piece of content in mind and then searching for it. Streaming services with the correct content architecture and feeds can deep link each individual video, movie, and series to show up within app store search results. For a streaming service, this means not only showing up as a result for searches with the words in their name, but searches for words in any of the potentially thousands of titles in their library.


At Unreel we have expended significant resources to ensure our partner’s streaming services are maximizing the power of search in each app store. Our focus on deep link search has led to millions of installs with no customer acquisition cost.


5. Retargeting and retention – push/email


The most underestimated aspect of growth for a streaming service is retention. The cost to reduce churn is in most cases far less than the cost to acquire new users. The first component of retention is retargeting. Reminding your users about your app and letting them know about the content they might be interested in can drastically increase sessions and watch time. If a user is active on your streaming service, they are far less likely to churn.


Many app platforms provide tools to re-engage users, be it push notifications or email collection. Utilizing a consistent campaign of push notifications and emails to your users in ways that provide value can ensure reengagement from those gone stale and increase the usage of even your most passionate fans.


6. Content strategy 


Content is king is a cliché for a reason. Retargeting, marketing, and promotion will bring consumers to your channel, but it’s the content and experience that converts them into a user. The key to promoting your streaming service is properly demonstrating your value proposition to users. What do they get in return for their time and money? The primary value is almost always content.


-Updated library:
A static streaming service is a failing streaming service. Short of mega fans, most users will not continue visiting a streaming service if they have watched all the content. What is new is what brings users back. Even If you are not producing new content, rotating what is available at a given time on the streaming service, curating new playlists and featured content, and remixing footage that already exists are all ways to keep a streaming service fresh in the eyes of users.


-Habit Development:
New content’s effectiveness is amplified when it is part of a consistent debut schedule that users are accustomed to. For the same reason, TV show episodes are released at the same time and day of the week, streaming services that put out their new content with a schedule teach their users a habit. Consumers can thoughtlessly come back week after week for new content, knowing there will be something new equate to consistent session and watch time growth.


7. Exclusivity


To maximize the value of content, it needs to be exclusive to your streaming service. The motivation to sign up for most is driven by access to new content. If users can view your content elsewhere without having to install an app or pay for the service, than they most likely will.


When an entire brand’s library of content lives on YouTube or another streaming service, it devalues that brand’s streaming service. A lack of exclusivity impacts marketing’s effectiveness and makes consumers less likely to spend time and money on content that they can access more conveniently elsewhere. This does not mean none of your streaming service’s content can live outside of its own walled garden. Syndicating and distributing to established platforms can serve as a top of the funnel acquisition channel – presenting what is essentially a teaser for the entire content library in front of consumers already streaming content. A user on another streaming service watching content often requires only the slightest push to become a user of yours as well.


Interested in working with Unreel to launch and grow your own OTT streaming service?  Email Sales@unreel.me to learn more.

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