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In a world where 43% of all media and entertainment apps are abandoned just one month after download, SonyLIV has managed to not only hold its own against streaming giants Netflix and Amazon, but grow consistently over the past 5 years. The platform has doubled its user acquisition numbers in Q1 of 2018 alone.1
As football fever reached its peak with the FIFA World Cup — the world’s most watched sporting event2 — viewers were spoiled for choice with the number of mediums they could access. All thanks to Sony Pictures Network (SPN) and their omnichannel content delivery platform that spans both offline and digital.
As part of our ongoing series on mobile growth, we chat with leaders at companies that are rewriting the rules of personalized mobile marketing and user engagement.
For our customer spotlight today, we speak with Abhishek Joshi, Head of Marketing, Subscriptions & Content Licensing at SPN’s Digital Business who shares what it takes for a media business to succeed in today’s mobile-first world.
Abhishek, tell us about your journey as India’s first OTT platform, and how you’ve managed to make such a mark in the OTT segment.
As the first OTT platform in the country, SonyLIV set the tone for the VOD and digital media ecosystem in India. In our 5 year journey we’ve learned some key insights into the rise of video content, creating engaging mobile experiences, the power of choice for consumers, and using data science and machine learning through tools like CleverTap. We’ve been able to better understand consumer personas and their consumption patterns to deliver user experiences that are unique to each viewer – personalized mobile marketing.
With the digital landscape evolving, we’ve been able to evolve ourselves – providing a wide variety of content that caters to the needs of all our consumers in a number of languages.
Can you share some of the marketing challenges that you experienced with such rapid user growth?
As user acquisition took off, it became essential for us to not only ensure we could maintain that growth, but also maximize customer lifetime value. With increasing acquisition also comes the challenge of retaining those users. Having analytics and engagement within the same platform was essential to our retention strategy.
Some of the key focus areas or challenges that we had to work on were:
With greater number of users come greater number of insights. How do you make sense of all that data and achieve personalization at scale?
With the millions of active subscribers that we have on the SonyLIV platform, personalization can be a little tricky. We partnered with CleverTap to make sense of our user data. This allowed us to target our users with the right messages at the right time.
Some of the features that have really been useful for us:
The FIFA World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events in the world. You talked about personalizing at scale — with over 70 Million visitors using SonyLIV, what were some of the CleverTap features that you saw value in?
As the official mobile and internet broadcaster for FIFA, SonyLIV was the go-to destination for all football lovers. As you rightly mentioned, we had over 70 Million viewers on our platform during this period. In order to ensure app stickiness, we monitored the behavior of all our app users to personalize their experiences.
A few features that we were using extensively during the FIFA World Cup:
These notifications can even be scheduled, or can be in the form of triggered campaigns based on what users do (and don’t do) in the app. Depending on the user segment being targeted, these notifications can highlight:
Would you like to tell our readers about some of SonyLIV’s new growth initiatives around the FIFA World Cup?
Yes, Absolutely. The FIFA World Cup frenzy started for us with the launch of our #ScreamLoud campaign which captured the excitement of football fans across the country cheering for their favorite teams. This was received quite well, and came seventh in YouTube Ads Leaderboard comprising the top 10 most-watched ads related to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia3.
The World Cup also saw the launch of a host of innovative video-on-demand (VOD) features like key moments, highlights, match playbacks, and real-time updates for a seamless viewer experience. We also brought viewers many industry firsts, such as the first ever social (Facebook) chatbot in the OTT entertainment space which updated users with match fixtures, points table, and helped set reminders for games.
Which is why it’s no surprise that we managed to get over 70 million viewers on Sony Liv during the FIFA World Cup4 – a record for any tournament played outside India. And the surprising part was that while we saw high viewership from cities like Kolkata, Cochin, and Mumbai – which have a rich history with football; we saw high viewership coming from cities like Ahmedabad and Lucknow too.
The OTT space has seen a number of entrants in the past couple of years, including a healthy mix of homegrown players and international heavyweights. How do you manage to keep your users’ attention and continue to grow your audience?
Being an omnichannel platform, we have the advantage of being able to provide region-specific content.
Our biggest chunk of viewership comes from our TV shows and Live sports streaming that we are the official partners for.
We believe we provide a differentiated experience with a vast library of original content, which makes us the leaders. With newer players in the space, it will only help the OTT ecosystem and will help us grow our numbers. The digital video industry is expected to grow three fold, to over 600 million users, which will only help fuel our long-term growth.5
SPN owns a large chunk of the official rights for major football, wrestling, and cricket events, which is why a sizeable number of users on the platform come for sporting events. And with more sports programming lined up, we don’t see the excitement dying down after the FIFA World Cup. SonyLIV recently extended its English content category and brought in for its viewers award winning series like Damages, Timeless, Underground and more. SonyLIV is also set to add more to this content pool as part of its SVOD offering.
An area that we’ve been focusing on is the regional content, with more than 80 shows in over 5 different languages. Regional markets are largely underserved when it comes to OTT content. With the localization capabilities both for content delivery and segmentation, we see a lot of growth coming from markets where regional content is consumed in languages like Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu. OTT content consumption on mobile devices is already redefining the concept of prime time, and we can expect to see an upsurge with the increasing number of mobile devices being sold everyday.
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