Consumers say there are way too many subscription services

consumers subscription services
Image by yousafbhutta | Pixabay

ITEM: One snag in shifting from ad-based business models to subscription models for digital services is that consumers end up juggling too many subscriptions. Which is why most respondents to a new survey say they’d rather have a single app that can manage them all.

According to the survey (which was commissioned by Bango and conducted by research agency 3Gem, and only covers the US), the average subscriber pays for five different subscriptions each month, while one in five (19%) pay for eight or more. That’s not just video streaming – it also includes gaming, music, fitness and meal kits, among others.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 45% of subscribers say they find it hard to keep track of where and how they signed up to these subscriptions. In fact, 35% say they have no idea how much they spend in total every month, and around the same percentage say they pay for a subscription service that they never actually use.

Bad experience for consumers

Obviously, one problem with so many paid subscription services is that they add up. $10 a month might sound reasonable for, say, a video streaming service. But with video streaming platforms investing in exclusive original content, many people subscribe to multiple streaming providers to access hot new TV shows and movies. Throw in fitness apps, games, music etc, and sooner or later consumers have to make decisions on what to keep and drop, because they only have so much disposable income to throw at these services.

But there’s also the issue of the impact of multiple subscriptions on the customer experience. And that’s also impacting their experiences and attitudes towards the subscription economy as a whole.

The Bango study rates the top five frustrations expressed by subscribers in dealing with so many subscriptions:

consumers subscription services
Source: Bango, “Subscription wars: the subscriber strikes back”

Faced with these challenges, many consumers are avoiding the admin involved in subscriptions altogether, with 39% of those surveyed turning to online piracy to get the user experience they want.

Which is obviously bad news for OTT service providers.

One platform to rule them all, etc

The good news, according to the survey, is that consumers aren’t wishing they had less things to subscribe to – they wish they had a “better, more joined-up experience”.

From the release:

More than three quarters of subscribers (78%) want one single platform to manage all of their subscriptions. 77% also want to be able to pay for multiple subscriptions (spanning TV, music, gaming and more) via one monthly bill. 79% also believe that having all of their subscriptions in one place would help them manage their household expenses in the face of the cost of living crisis.

Naturally, this is the part in the study where Bango pitches its own solution to all of this. But the gist is that the potential solution lies in an ecosystem approach, in which subscription services are packed into “superbundles” that enable you to access all of your subscription services in one place, and get one unified bill.

A regional example of this concept is Optus, which last year launched SubHub. In essence, SubHub allows you to subscribe to services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Calm, Kindle Unlimited and Iqiyi. Pick the apps you want in your bundle, and Optus does the rest – including the billing. SubHub also offers discounts based on how many subscriptions you choose.

It remains an open question whether pay-TV players can make superbundles work. The industry track record for OTT onboarding and unified billing is mixed. Also, while the study notes that most subscribers see cable and TV providers as the top choice for being that single platform to manage all their subscriptions, they aren’t the only options.

consumers subscription services
Source: Bango, “Subscription wars: the subscriber strikes back”

Anyway, the full report is here (sales pitch and all) if you want it.

Related article: Wearables market embraces subscription model – but will users pay?

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