Singula Decisions

Brands Go Through ‘Grief Process’ When Subscribers Leave, Says Latest Singula Decisions Report

October 7, 2020

Brands go through a sort of ‘grief process’ when subscribers leave, but this is unnecessary, according to an in-depth report launched by Singula Decisions, a specialist in subscriber intelligence.

TV subscription brands, such as Amazon, Disney+, and Netflix, are their own worst enemy when it comes to losing customers, says the latest report. 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.

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.”

Sports subscribers and avoidable churn

It’s well known that sports subscribers are regular churners. In fact, they may well be churners by necessity, because for many a subscription seems pointless when their favourite sport is no longer being played due to the season being over. Of course, the availability of alternatives in the so-called ‘off season’ ultimately depends on the type of brand (sports aggregation/single sport service) and distribution method (OTT aggregated/ Pay TV channel/sports bundle/single channel). Where some of the bigger Pay TV brands can offer a switch to movies in the downtime of live sports, others could offer access to international leagues, sports and content. There is also the possibility for some brands to offer tickets to events, or otherwise serious money-off during the break (down to £5 or even £1 a month).

Another way to keep subscribers engaged during peak season and in the breaks, is by interaction through apps where subscribers can chat, connect, vote and find material of interest, such as technical data, news on transfers, players, managers, etc.

App interactions are a prime opportunity to gather subscriber data through surveys and engagement campaigns with members, which may not land as readily during the season when fans are watching sport. Sport provides important ‘me time’ and a form of escapism for subscribers, but this means it’s often a more selfish purchase not relevant for all members of the family. Sports channels and packages need to therefore stay either relevant or cheap when seasons are over, in order to still have a place in the monthly family budget and to reduce the degree of ‘churn and no return’.

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, whilst maintaining login details and watchlists so they feel remembered and like they’ve ‘come home’ when they rejoin

Singula Decisions