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August 24, 2021 | Authored by: Jack Bullock

What the 2021 Olympics taught CROs about media subscriptions

We all knew that this year’s Olympic Games were going to be...different.

The Games were canceled only three times in history, because of world wars, no less. Then came 2020, and the Olympics were postponed for the first time ever. Next, there was the ban on live spectators. Even through the unprecedented confusion, optimism reigned. Surely after a year of lockdowns, people worldwide would be hungry for solid sports entertainment that only the Olympics can deliver, right? Viewership was predicted to soar.

But it wasn’t to be. The 2021 Olympics broadcast ratings were among the lowest ever recorded, down an average of 45% compared to the 2016 games. What on Earth happened?

Confusion wins the gold medal

First, let’s set the scene. The 2021 Games were a different kind of viewing experience than before. The NBCUniversal network, which owns the broadcast rights to the Olympics, provided a variety of channels to view the games, including broadcast cable, online streaming, and its digital Peacock app.

But this created a huge problem. With so many platforms in play, NBC seems to have failed to create a smooth, enjoyable viewing experience. While users could access certain sports for free, others came with an additional fee, and the opening ceremony was not streamed at all on Peacock. According to credit analyst Patrice Cucinello, “The viewing experience needs to be streamlined...It’s confusing from a user experience, to go: ‘Wait a second. Do I have to watch it on the NBC app? Can I watch it on Peacock? When am I going to watch it? Why can’t I watch it on demand?’ You need a simplified user experience or people get frustrated.”

TV ratings aren’t what they used to be

Bad user experience notwithstanding, the ratings drop can also be considered as part of a broader trend away from traditional TV viewing habits. It’s not just the Games – audience ratings are down across all broadcast TV entertainment.

Any analysis of media consumption trends and patterns in the last few years will clearly need to take the pandemic into account. But it’s not just about that. Media technology has been shifting fast and people’s behaviors and tastes are moving with it. Ten years ago, the smartphone was a great way to check email and take photos. Now it’s a mini-entertainment system in every pocket, with streaming platforms providing on-demand channels for all the viewing they want.

The availability of different devices, platforms and channels means that there is no uniform way that people consume media. Subscription video on demand is exploding, with 1.1 billion subscriptions in 2020, up from 642 million in 2019. The industry is meeting the demand head on, with huge increases in spending on production and content creation.  Each individual can craft the viewing habits and routines that best suit them. And this is a big headache for a particular group of professionals in the business: CROs.

How to make order out of the chaos

One of the ways to process all this is by looking at it from a generational perspective and seeing the broad preferences across age groups.

For instance, Gen Z, the youngest adult generation, significantly increased digital media consumption over the last year, especially online videos, online TV/video streaming and podcasts. Interestingly, Millennials and Gen X reduced their online media consumption between April and December 2020, with rises only in podcasts and books (yes, printed books!), while Boomers actually increased their consumption of online videos.

There’s a lot to process here and that’s where it can get very tricky for CROs who are tasked with keeping customers satisfied and engaged.

CROs: dive deep

Generational studies of media consumption trends and habits are important, but it will only take the CRO so far. With such a variety of customers, behavioral patterns, preferences and needs, across different generations and geo locations, CROs need a smarter way to slice and dice their customer experience and make sense of it. How? With smarter data analysis.

Based on 15 years of subscription data collection and analysis Vindicia subscription intelligence is a powerful tool that makes order out of all the confusion. It provides detailed, accurate and coherent data about user behaviors and offers CROs a data-driven method of predicting what customers want next. Different buyers behave differently, and this is all mapped out with subscription intelligence. There’s no need to rely on broad, prescriptive generalizations about users based on statistical surveys or generational analysis. Now you can access focused data on actual users and their behaviors and preferences in real-time.

Building next-gen subscription models

A large volume of subscribers – including Millennials, Gen Z and up-and-coming generations – are digitally oriented. And media companies are going to have to provide the next-gen subscription models that will provide them with satisfying journeys and experiences. With tools such as MarketONE, CROs can position themselves to power smarter subscriptions, delivering personalized bundles, customized promos and offers, and crafting different buyer journeys that deliver excitement and satisfaction for specific users. All this is the key to adding value along the entire lifetime of the subscription relationship, and it correlates directly to increased revenue – the ultimate goal of the CRO.

People consume media differently

It’s up to CROs to meet subscribers where they are. Advanced subscription data is the only way to truly understand subscribers, what they need and want, as individuals, beyond generation, gender, industry, or geography. That’s what it means to power smarter subscriptions. In doing so, CROs can create rich, seamless, and inviting user journeys and subscription experiences that drive revenue.

About Author

Jack Bullock

Jack Bullock

Jack brings 25 years of sales and sales management experience to Vindicia. Prior to joining Vindicia, he was senior vice president of digital commerce sales for Pitney Bowes, where his responsibilities included overall management of the global sales organization. Jack has extensive experience in enterprise software, including senior management positions with Infor and Vitria. Jack began his career at Oracle and has also held sales and sales management positions at Forte Software. Jack holds a Master of Business Administration degree from University of Colorado and a B.S. in Computer Information Systems from Missouri State University.