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How AI Improves Audience Engagement For Streaming Services

Illustration showcasing a family around their streaming service device, showing audience engagement in media.
AI in streaming services is boosting audience engagement, ‌improving the overall experience, and transforming the way we consume content. [Adobe | Alwie99d]

Make the most of your streaming service with AI tools for unparalleled subscriber experiences and maximized audience engagement.

It’s a challenging time for streaming services. Nearly half of consumers say streaming services are too expensive and nearly a third plan to trim back on their subscriptions, with prime demographics leading the way on the cutbacks — 62% of millennials and 57% of Gen Z.

Over the past few years, there’s been an explosion of options for every type of consumer. Once dominated by a handful of players, now practically every content owner has launched their own direct-to-consumer service — Disney, Apple, NBC, not to mention the numerous music and gaming services out there — turning up the stakes on keeping existing subscribers happy and loyal. That’s why audience engagement has become a make-or-break factor for streaming services. 

Consumers are more connected than ever before and are subscribing to a myriad of services — most averaging nine subscriptions. But those days appear to be numbered. The challenge now is how to keep the subscribers you have, and that means keeping them happy. How do media companies make sure they continue to stay relevant to their customers? More importantly, do they have the right insights at their fingertips to proactively identify at-risk subscribers and create retention journeys? 

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Simply put, with so many streaming services out there, and many raising their prices, along with economic factors, people are trying different ways to trim the fat to save money. This reality has brought some serious challenges for media companies, and it’s been difficult to keep up with the rapidly evolving marketplace. Here are the realities:  

  • Subscriber churn is real: it’s harder and harder to keep subscribers on any service
  • Delivering personalized media experiences matters: 66% of customers are willing to pay more for a great experience, so they will stick to companies that keep delivering that great experience.
  • Acquiring subscribers is costly: on average, media companies spend $200 to acquire a new subscriber, stressing the importance of keeping their current subscribers loyal.

Improving streaming services’ audience engagement with AI

Streaming services need to improve customer experiences to build lifelong relationships with media consumers, allowing them to stand out from the competition — and they can do that with artificial intelligence (AI). 

Streaming services in particular can gather myriad data points on their subscribers simply through their viewing or listening habits, and how they interact with the service through inquiries and purchasing history. All of this data gives companies a complete view of their customer in a ‌CRM to then make decisions with the help of AI. 

Managing the entire subscriber journey — from onboarding to retention — is the key. This is all at a time when companies are being asked to do more with less, which is why technology increases operational efficiency by extracting the lifetime value with improved engagement and decreases costs by simplifying onboarding and service. 

Here’s what goes into each stage – from onboarding to service to engagement to building loyalty — and how AI plays a role. 

Onboarding is your first chance to impress your subscriber

Imagine you’ve just landed a new subscriber, and next comes the highly crucial step of onboarding and getting them excited about using your service. 

You launch AI to deliver an interactive tour to guide your subscribers through the best ways to use the service. Your subscribers can, for example, interact with the platform and discover content that interests them. AI can also help in surfacing any relevant how-to guides or FAQ articles based on how a subscriber initially interacts with the platform. 

Your subscriber can also, for example, be prompted to fill out a survey that AI can then analyze in real time to offer customized content recommendations to introduce them to the service. 

Say your new subscriber indicates that they like action movies in the survey, is a fan of their local NBA team, and has a 10-year-old daughter. AI then generates a curated list of the most popular action films on the platform, an upgrade option for a live sports package, while also delivering a prompt to set up a separate children’s account with its own curated content options. 

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AI turns service into a painless — and personalized — process

Customer service should ensure an agent and the accompanying AI has a complete view of the subscriber — whether it’s billing, technical, or subscriber services. Whether they call or seek out self-service options, AI can augment live agent experiences by suggesting next steps or by calling in the right experts to fix their issue. It can also generate service summaries, a critical picture of a customer’s history, for a better view of the journey for future inquiries. 

AI-driven chatbots can provide personalized responses to any kind of inquiry. And smart automation can help serve up knowledge articles and relevant information to help subscribers find answers. 

Engaging subscribers goes beyond a content algorithm

Now that customers are using your service, how do you get them to engage more? How do you present them with relevant content? Data-driven content algorithms are nothing new, but it’s worth repeating: “Content is king.” The quality and relevance of the content available and served to subscribers is one of the main factors they’ll remain loyal to your service. 

Ensuring your CRM has the most relevant and complete data to make that happen is critical. It starts with demographics and the selection of preferences that can be gathered during onboarding, such as what kind of movie or TV show genres a subscriber prefers. 

As a subscriber uses your service more and more, AI curates playlists or thematic content collections based on their preferences. Think about how a streaming music service curates playlists for different genres, moods, or even the time of day; that can all be achieved and optimized through AI. 

AI can also help combat the threat of churn when a subscriber finishes a series that they subscribed to the platform to watch, by suggesting related content they’d likely enjoy. 

But it goes beyond that. AI is especially relevant when it comes to ensuring your subscribers have the right kind of content at their fingertips at the right time. Your integrated AI can almost instantly create promotions around a live pay-per-view boxing match targeted to a customer who’s been watching a lot of sports content, for example. 

AI can take subscriber loyalty to the next level

Now that you’ve managed to keep a subscriber for a certain amount of time, the next question becomes how do you extend the lifetime value of that relationship? 

Predictive AI can help flag downward consumption trends, which can signal a subscriber’s likelihood to cancel service. That technology can also monitor service interruptions and viewer experience — things like buffering, streaming quality, and fidelity metrics — that drive frustration and could cause churn.

Once that’s flagged, AI can help create a retention strategy, which involves reaching out to customers who are less engaged or impacted by service outages or inferior viewing experiences. The technology assists in creating and optimizing personalized communications with acknowledgment of the issue, exclusive offers, and reminders of new content they’re likely to be interested in. 

What about your loyal subscribers? AI can help create customized loyalty programs that provide an extra layer of VIP treatment. That’s early access to a new show or a loyalty program to generate points for every dollar spent to be used for a reward of some kind. AI can help identify those subscriber segments and then create ‌marketing content around promoting loyalty or reward programs. Or, AI can also recommend and promote relevant content that requires upsell options such as premium packages.  

AI can also help turn those loyal subscribers into “superfans” by promoting merchandise from a show or musician they like or by selling them experiences related to their preferences. Spotify, for example, sends listeners alerts when an artist they like is playing in their area with a link to purchase tickets. With its year-end “Wrapped” feature, the music streaming service also sends listeners promotions to buy exclusive merchandise showcasing their loyalty to their favorite artists. 

Audience engagement for streaming services doesn’t have to be hard

It’s competitive out there right now for streaming services, and to generate the best audience engagement possible, it’s imperative to find the right mix of quality and personalized content with quick and effective service and customized subscriber care. Streaming services are having to do all of that with fewer and fewer resources, which is why AI is such a powerful tool, allowing you to not only do more with less but also foster better audience engagement and happier subscribers. 

Gaby Hosokawa
Gaby Hosokawa Senior Product Marketing Manager, Media & Entertainment

Gaby Hosokawa is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Media & Entertainment at Salesforce. She has 15 years of experience in the world of Tech and Media & Entertainment industry, including at Ogilvy in Brasil and Dell Technologies, before joining Salesforce.

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