Puneet Johar | Published on April 11, 2022
Are Streaming Apps missing out on the Short Video phenomenon?
As entertainment businesses race to commission and buy content for their streaming apps to push for new users and subscriptions, the question is quickly moving to stickiness and profitability. The Key Questions being asked are:
  1. The shiny new tentpole series is attracting subscriptions but are they staying?
  2. Will more and more expensive tentpoles be required to feed the subscription monster?
  3. Cant we combine advertising and subscription revenue in one offering?
Some of these trends have been picked up in the recent Deloitte Digital Media Trends 2022 report. These include the struggle of retention as churn rates hit 37% on an average in the United States, with churn rates touching nearly 50% amongst Gen Z and Millennials.
People cancel and return only when there is a new show or a new season that they are interested in. The other trend that gets bigger and bigger is Social which is largely free. And the library of content is massive and seemingly never-ending. Users are watching a short form of feed of news and entertainment which never gets boring and they can return to it several times of the day,
Lets examine why entertainment apps might be having this problem
1. Streaming apps are not focused enough on retention.
The average streaming app could have north of 10,000 hours of content but barely 20% of it gets viewed frequently. Viewers are moving from a tentpole in one app to another. The bruising tentpole war must be fought but shouldn’t a significant, if not equal effort be made to make people discover more content on the app.
How are they going to be attracted to watch the old classic, a series from four years ago that got critical acclaim, a movie from the past that is topical now, a freshly minted star’s early release and so on. Just putting trailers can’t be the answer. There needs to be more marketing effort at an efficient cost.
2. Are new forms of content being considered?
If YouTube and other social apps can combine long form and short form, professional and user generated content in one app, can streaming apps take a leaf out of their book. Can they try alternate content models that are inexpensive and yet don’t clutter the interface. Remember for some of the social media apps, cost of content tends to zero.
3. Are mobiles being ignored due to the obsession with Smart TVs apps?
The younger generation consumes most of their content on mobiles. Streaming apps have got so obsessed with lean back viewing that they are probably missing that they need to rethink their interface and offering for mobile. The mobile offers a chance to recalibrate the content and revenue model without impacting the user experience.
Retention, Engagement, New Forms of Content and the focus on Mobile App possibly leads us to a phenomenon that streaming apps might be ignoring. Having a seemingly endless short video feed and user generated communities to enhance the content offering. A focused approach and replication of case studies from around the world form a part of the playbook to make this successful.
Key elements of the playbook include
  1. Use a good software to integrate and test the functionality in your app. Building this functionality from scratch could set you back by a year or two.
  2. Seed the initial content with PGC (Professionally Generated Content) highlights, interviews, features and other forms of surround content using celebs and influencers.
  3. Run interesting challenges and auditions for reality shows to get short form UGC (user generated content) on the app.
  4. Keep the interface clean by making this a separate section in your app discoverable by various entry points.
  5. Make this section free for users and ad supported.
  6. Brands can also be part of the gamification features and associate themselves with the tentpoles without conventional sponsorships.
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