Top 3 Personalization Strategies to Build Your OTT Video Audience

There’s no denying that OTT video is driving the future of home entertainment. As the industry matures, more and more companies are entering the fray. Whether they are traditional media companies switching over or native OTT video companies, they’re all realizing that building and growing a loyal audience is a complex challenge.

Success depends on the perceived value that the viewers feel they are getting from your service. Today’s audiences expect your service to be tailored to their needs and preferences – be it content, payments or account management – they want to be in control of the relationship. Companies not only have to meet all these demands, they also have to go beyond it in order to survive the competition. Great content is table-stakes. Subscribers want services that are personalized and delightful at every stage of the experience from sign-up to discovery and viewing to renewals.

Top 3 personalization strategies

Personalized Recommendations

Gone are the days of basic profiling and recommendations a la the cable box way. Today’s viewers expect you to really know them and personalize your recommendations to help them through the search and discovery process. Netflix is a great example of a company that has come close to mastering this. It’s renowned personalization is what makes finding a movie or show to watch easy and perhaps, even addictive.

In order to deliver this smooth experience, Netflix collects data around what you watch, how long you watch, the device you watch it on, etc to customize the experience for its members. It even personalizes your homepage making it super convenient for viewers to get on and use the service. It also goes a long way in making individual viewers feel specially catered to.

Traditional TV channels on the other hand base their recommendations on standard metadata such as category, director, actors, etc of programs watched. But such high-level data doesn’t really give you the complete picture. What if they abandoned a movie after 10 minutes and your entire recommendation que is based on that director or actor? There’s a high chance that your suggestions will be ignored and unappreciated.

Streaming video services can access to a lot more data. It’s best to combine your service data (gathered from customers’ multiple screens) with other seemingly unrelated data such as social to understand your viewers more deeply. This will help you provide a more accurate, targeted and intuitive experience for your audience, which in turn will make them want to stay longer with you.

“Our brand is personalization.”

Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix


Due the very individualized nature of the medium as well as success with niche content, OTT video has a much better chance at building a real community of viewers. The benefits range from higher viewer loyalty to more insight into customer needs and preferences. And as social discovery grows, OTT video has an excellent opportunity to tap into this community to get people to help each other in the discovery process as well.

It’s like a club of people who share a common interest. With the right strategy, these communities can serve as an attractive entry point to a larger value proposition of becoming the hub for their chosen subject. For example: The Enthusiast Network which is the world’s premier network of enthusiast brands, such as Motor Trend Surfer, etc has more than 50 publications, 60 websites, 50 events, 1,000 branded products, the world’s largest automotive VOD channel, and the world’s largest action/adventure sports media platform. In TEN’s words, it , “inspires enthusiasts to pursue their passions.” TEN essentially serves as a one-stop shop for all that the enthusiast seeks in their niche area of interest such as surfing or racing.

Anime OTT video service Crunchyoll is another great example. In its efforts to build a community, Crunchyroll is a regular at Anime conventions, has a dedicated podcast and also provides show reviews. On its online store, it sells everything a fan could want – from anime themed books and apparel to houseware and even hair clips!

“With any niche service, you need to differentiate from people who have larger scale from you. The way that we've done that is by building our community.”

Reid De Ramus, Marketing Lead at Crunchyroll

Personalized Upsell and Retention Packages
Personalization must permeate your entire OTT video service and go beyond just the content. With viewers constantly switching between multiple devices, you will need to use data from these multiple sources to inform your upsell and renewal offers.It’s also important that they see a consistent message across all devices. And if you can allow them to handcraft the offer directly, they should have little reason to complain. For example: Allowing subscribers to choose your service for 2 screens during the school year and switching to 4 screens during the Summer might be a great way to cater to families with young children. It might also result in a longer term upsell.

These strategies not only help OTT video companies but also makes the experience more valuable for viewers which in builds audiences.

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