Loyal subscribers ‘rejected’ and ‘ignored’ by brands that show favouritism to new customers

TV subscription brands are their own worst enemy when it comes to losing customers, according to an in-depth report launched today by Singula Decisions, a specialist in subscriber intelligence. 

The new findings highlight that while brands obsess about the problem of ‘churn’ they only have themselves to blame for customers cancelling their subscriptions. Respondents are left rejected and ignored by OTT brands that prioritise winning new customers instead of building valuable relationships with existing ones. In addition, brands often avoid customer communication completely for fear of alerting consumers to the fact they are being billed for a service they may have grown tired of, and that futile efforts to retain customers only truly start when they request to cancel.


Speaking about the findings, Bhavesh Vaghela, CEO of Singula Decisions, said: “Brands spend a huge amount of time and effort building predictive models and using analytics to identify potential churners and understand why they are leaving – but what they often don’t consider is that they’re the biggest part of the problem! By the time a subscriber has requested to leave, the damage has been done. To reduce churn, brands must change their mindset; efforts to build a long-term, happy relationship must start at the beginning, not a short burst at the end to try and save a customer that’s cancelling.”

Retain subscribers

The ‘Psychology of a Subscriber’ research has highlighted the need for brands to do more to listen, understand, and engage with customers throughout the entire journey. Learning what makes each individual subscriber tick and responding appropriately – from the moment they join, through the power struggle over billing, and even the pain of cancellation – is essential to the long-term strategy of reducing churn and building positive, long-term relationships with subscribers. 

Report author and Director of QualiProjects, Jennifer Whittaker, said: “A lack of focus during the early stages of the customer journey means loyal subscribers can feel rejected by brands, and that they are not getting enough value. It’s disheartening for loyal subscribers to see favouritism shown to new customers who have not yet spent any money with the brand. When brands avoid loyal subscribers due to a fear of losing them if they are reminded too overtly of their monthly spend, they are unconsciously sabotaging what could have been a healthy relationship.”

Make cancellation easy

Those surveyed also commented that communications and marketing offers are rarely personalised – treating all customers with a one-size-fits-all approach instead of individuals with unique desires and needs. The process of cancelling was also flagged as a major problem by consumers who feel there are too many barriers, and that some brands act in a cynical way, using interrogation tactics and pressure to get them to stay or find out why they are leaving.  

“Churn is inevitable – and doesn’t have to be viewed negatively. Some cancellations are involuntary, either due to financial difficulty or a change in lifestyle, so it’s important that brands listen and make it easy and painless for customers to go. Giving the subscriber a positive experience at the end – by making it easy for them to leave and rejoin, and providing great customer service – means there’s a strong possibility that they will return in the future,” Vaghela added. 


This is the final paper in a series of three that looks at the ‘Psychology of a Subscriber’. The latest report focuses on ways brands can look to reduce churn and win back customers through better communication and creating positive sentiment with loyal subscribers. The research explores how brands can:

  • Create valuable engagement with loyal subscribers and give rewards for their commitment
  • Shift from a cold, transactional relationship to a warm, emotional one
  • Enable customers’ wishes for flexible subscriptions that offer easy ways to ‘dip in and out’
  • Make it easy for customers to cancel and rejoin, generating positive sentiment for the brand
  • Reimpress past subscribers by gaining permission to keep in touch, while maintaining login details and watchlists so they feel remembered and like they’ve ‘come home’ when they rejoin

Download a copy

The ‘Psychology of a Subscriber: Part 3 – Churn’ report explores the psychological and emotional drivers that consumers experience when subscribing to an OTT service and can be downloaded here

The qualitative study, which was conducted and authored by Qualitative Researcher, Accredited Psychotherapist and Director of QualiProjects, Jennifer Whittaker, and Business Psychologist and Researcher, Katharina Wittgens, explores subscriber attitudes towards OTT TV brands in the UK and US, gaining a deep understanding of how consumers think, feel and behave throughout the customer journey. 

Join the webinar

There will be an opportunity to hear the authors of the study discuss the research with Colin Dixon, Founder and Chief Analyst of nScreenMedia in a live webcast on October 19th at noon Pacific Time (8pm BST, 9pm CET). This webinar is part of the Let’s DEW Lunch webinar series from Digital Media Wire and you can register to attend here.

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