5 Most Common OTT Subscription Mistakes Companies Make

OTT (Over-The-Top) platforms have gained some serious ground in India over the last decade or so. Gone are the days when one would predict OTTs to be the future of entertainment in the country. With a sudden flurry and influx of both consumers and OTT providers, the importance of OTT platforms in our entertainment space can’t be understated.

While it’s a relatively new mechanism, OTT platforms have been around long enough for new providers to learn from past companies’ mistakes in the domain.

Today, let’s look at some of the biggest OTT subscription monetization mistakes companies make while launching their services.

mistakes companies make while launching ott services

Trying to do too much too soon

It’s been observed over the last few years that a dedicated and focused subscription model works better for a new OTT platform than a multi-dimensional subscription model that tries to cater to a bigger demographic than the platform can operate with at the time. From live streams to multi-platform multi-device subscriptions to pay-per-views, too many OTTs have had to re-imagine their recurring subscription monetization strategies after the first few months of launch. Thus, it’s strictly advisable to start-off simple with 1-3 platforms and one dedicated content distribution method. Once the OTT has a grip over this subscription model, scaling can be the next step.

The dearth of high-quality content

A lot of OTT platforms adjust and re-adjust their launch windows based on their content bank. To some, this may seem like the most important aspect to inspect leading up to a platform’s launch. From a subscription-based billing model’s point of view, recurring billing will only happen when there’s enough high-quality content on the platform. For some entertainment-driven platforms, content quality and depth may even be more valuable than the user interface of the app. As a rule of thumb based on an analysis of past OTT companies, newer platforms should focus on achieving at least 100-150 high-quality video assets before the launch.

Launching without an established audience

Nothing spells the futility of a subscription billing software quite like the absence of a trusting user base. While launching a successful subscription-based OTT platform is nothing short of taking part in a race, the haste that comes with it is almost the enemy of a sustainable recurring billing solution. The first step to establishing a trusting user base is to convince viewers that the platform adds value to their lives. Offering freebies including a free-trial period or a limited-time premium viewing list have been proven to be essential in gaining the audience’s trust. If a platform doesn’t have either, it may do the platform good to start with an ad-supported business model to pump the visibility of their product. Platforms can also consider using Multi play subscription billing or bundled services billing to reach out to intended audiences.

The right way and the wrong way of using technology

In this age of immense OTT competition, nothing puts off a first-time subscriber quite like a glitchy interface or a lagged-viewing experience. While some OTT platforms have figured out the use of cloud in an efficient way that ensures a seamless streaming experience from anywhere in the world, some other OTT giants are relying more on essential sports and entertainment viewing as opposed to a seamless watching experience. It doesn’t take a genius to figure which platform offers a better recurring billing solution.

Lack of focus on retention plans

A lot of subscription services commit the mistake of getting complacent after achieving their target number of subscribers in their product’s first marketing wave. By now, we know enough to understand the value of investing in OTT recurring billing solutions for your platform. Many content-based platforms hence, as part of the strategy, invest heavily in multi-seasonal video assets that last a few subscription cycles.

Sometimes, knowing what not to do is almost as important as checking off everything on the must-do list. Keeping the above points in mind, OTT platforms can avoid the most common risk-inducing factors and make a more sure-shot attempt at creating a wider and long-standing audience.


  • Ajay Jain

    Ajay is the Director - Business Development at Magnaquest. He is looking at various domains including strategy, go-to-market, core marketing and product marketing. Ajay comes with a rich and varied experience of the semiconductor industry, education and startup consulting. He has an experience of over 16 years in both corporates and growth-stage startups. He has double Masters – MS from University of Arizona and MBA from Indian School of Business.