The New (Non-Streaming) Services Subscriber Base: Will They Stick Around?

The news is filled with data points about the pandemic-related rise of streaming services in America. But what about other services – are Americans also streaming more music? More self-improvement services? As fitness brands like Fitbit and Nike launched free trials of their service offerings, did new subscribers flock? What about online learning or news options? And, importantly for these companies, do these new users plan to keep the services long term?

During March/April 2020, 35% of Americans accessed a free trial or activated a new subscription for a music, news, fitness or online learning service. New music subscriptions (to services like Spotify or Apple Music) were most common. 1-in-5 tried or subscribed to fitness, news or online learning services. Gen Z/Millennials are often the heaviest subscribers – and for fitness and online learning the subscriber base skews under 35. There is a directional trend towards starting with free trials over subscribing immediately. More affluent households (those making over $100K) are most likely to jump into a new paid subscription.

Do these new subscribers plan to stick around as the crisis abates? Music subscribers are the most likely to say that they plan to keep the subscription post-pandemic (72%).. Nearly two-thirds (64%) plan to keep their new fitness service subscription. Over half plan to keep news or online learning services.

However, some accessed the services solely as a stopgap. One-third of new online learning or news subscribers and one in five new fitness service subscribers say they do not plan to keep the service/access to content after the pandemic.

Takeaway:
The challenge for brands is two-fold – providing an experience that new subscribers expect and value to ensure you keep those who intend to stick around, while trying to delight and demonstrate benefits to those who are either on the fence or don’t plan to need/want the service in the future. Both of these jobs may be made more difficult by the increasing financial pressure many Americans are facing. As such, optimizing the user experience critical during this ‘trial’ period.

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