Deal or No Deal – Leveraging the Free Trial to Increase Pay-TV Customer Acquisition


Deal or No Deal

Leveraging the Free Trial to Increase Pay-TV Customer Acquisition

For pay-TV operators, customer acquisition is always the number one goal. Unfortunately, sealing the deal with new customers isn’t always easy. Today, customer expectations are high and competition is fierce, making it more important than ever for operators to implement highly effective find and join strategies.

Try before you buy

We recently conducted consumer research with Decipher, and found that 100% of people surveyed said that they wouldn’t have tried any of the pay-TV services they’ve used if they hadn’t been offered a free trial. The number speaks for itself – 100%. A trial period was perceived as a vital component for customer acquisition as it allows users a first-hand experience of the content range available before making a paid commitment.

Clearly, a trial period is the number one way to remove the barriers to entry by a significant margin. As one respondent put it “The trials help you to test the waters. You can gauge how much you’re actually going to use it.”

More traditional operators, like HBO are more likely to have an offer based on price due to complicated set up processes, the high cost of acquisition and long contract periods. OTT providers typically have the flexibility to take advantage of these shortcomings by offering free trials to new customers.

Name your terms

It’s imperative for TV operators to offer free trials with simple to understand terms and conditions, with no hidden charges. This creates a culture of transparency and trust. This is key to retaining the customer once the free trial period is over. Over time, trust eventually leads to customer loyalty, which is becoming more and more rare in today’s competitive market.

Before deciding on the duration of the free trial period, operators may want to spend some time analysing the behaviours of new subscribers. It’s important to conduct tests to see what offers are working for your customers, e.g. one month free, 3 months for the price of 2, or 3 months at half price. Here at Paywizard, we have experts who can advise on what offer is right for your service, based on our experience working on real campaigns.

Right offer, right time

Providing the right offer at the right time is key. In our fast-paced world, multi-marketing outreach via various platforms, both online and off is an essential activity for operators to help people to find and join their service. Ultimately, everyone likes to receive some sort of offer/deal and this is particularly important for those who are price sensitive.

Offers should be visible and easy to find. Here are a few recommendations on what works and what doesn’t:

Programming deals – OTT services excite the eyes, therefore, offers and deals associated to particular programming e.g. Breaking Bad, House of Cards is attractive to customers and should be used in an operator’s join strategy.

Recommend a friend – In our experience, the offer to ‘Recommend a friend’ is not advised. This is horribly complicated for the operator to manage and doesn’t bring value quick enough to the customer or their recommendee.

Seasonal offers – Operators who broadcast sports should consider seasonal deals. Typically, operators see a massive drop in subscribers once a particular sports’ season is over. However, seasonal deals work well by offering a reduced subscription price when the season ends in an effort to minimise churn, e.g. reducing the subscription to £1 a month keeps the customers paying something, as opposed to leaving and paying nothing. It also offers the customer a better overall experience, by not having the hassle of re-joining once the new season starts up.

Once customers have been drawn in by a particular offer/deal, it’s important that the sign-up process be as simple as possible. In order to keep the customer on the hook until the deal is done, signing up mustn’t feel like a chore. It’s true that a good offer, made in the right place, at the right time can get a new subscriber to find your service, but an easy, seamless sign-up process is what will ensure that they join.

While deals are most prominent in the find and join stages, it’s essential to continue to use them as a strategy throughout the entire subscriber lifecycle in an effort to maximise APRU, revenue and customer loyalty for pay-TV operators.

Learn more about how to help customers to find and join your TV service by checking out our new white paper at