nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Free trials work! 60+ percent convert to paying customers

Signup and viewing platforms are not the same

It can be a struggle to find and retain subscribers for smaller SVOD services. New data from Vimeo shows that a free trial is a critical tool in converting subscribers and apps help cement the relationship.

Vimeo has been helping content rights holders launch online video services for more than a decade. It has plumbed data from 3.6 million worldwide online subscribers to bring some insights into how to build a successful video service. Two of the five data points in the just-released The 2018 OTT Revolution report struck me as particularly useful to any online video service provider looking to boost subscribers and increase customer lifetime value.

Free trials work

Online video service providers (OVSPs) could be forgiven for hesitating to provide a free trial. There are risks that many people will signup, binge the content they want, and then bolt without paying a dime. New data from Vimeo shows it is worth taking the risk. Vimeo data shows that any online video service provider (OVSP) would foolish not to allow free trials of the service. The company found that 60% of people that sign up for a free trial from any platform end up becoming a paying customer.

SVOD free trial conversion ratesThe company saw the highest conversion rates through iOS devices, 69.6%, and Roku devices, 69.4%. 68.4% of those signing up through a web interface converted to paying customers. Android TV and Android conversions were slightly lower, 64.7% and 62.7%, but only slightly.

The challenge is to get people to sign up for a free trial. Vimeo says an OVSP can increase its chances of that happening by one-third if it can get them to use the service app rather than the web interface. Since downloading an app implies a bigger commitment than browsing the website, it makes sense that free signups would be higher. The trick, however, is to get people to download the app in the first place.

[Update: A big reason conversions are so high could be because people provide credit card info as part of the free trial signup. In other words, they have to remember to cancel or they will be charged.]

Apps a critical part of the ecosystem

Vimeo says that it examined subscriptions to hundreds of online video services it powers. It found that more than 73,000 people subscribed through a web browser in 2017. Of those, over three-quarters also watched through an app. 32% watched through an app on their iPhone, 20% on an Android device, 2.4% through a Roku, and 3.3% through an iPad. This data strongly supports the idea that when consumers signup for a service they expect to have access to it through all the screens they use.

There is another benefit to your viewers using multiple screens: lower churn. Back in 2015, Tim Connelly, Head of Business Development for Hulu, told me that people that used the service through more than one screen were far less likely to cancel. For this reason, he said, the company encourages multiscreen viewing:

Tim Connelly Hulu“We know they activated the service through Apple iOS. We will then hit them with a number of promo spots that says ‘enable your living room device’.”

It is strategies like this that have helped Hulu grow to more than 17 million subscribers in the U.S.

Why it matters

New data from Vimeo shows that 60% or more of people that signup for a free trial converts to a paying customer.

Vimeo also found that though most people signup for a service through the web, they also use the service through an app on another platform.


One Comment

  1. I find it hard to believe 32% watch Video on their small iPhones as opposed to 3.3% watch Video in an I Pad.
    Why do viewers prefer a small screen ?
    Next question: How many viewers stay AFTER the trial period ?

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