Attracting and Retaining Cord-Nevers

This blog is part of CSG’s “What’s Your End Game” series, focused on best practices for developing a successful digital content strategy.

The ever-changing, fast-paced world of content delivery and consumption creates competitive pressures for all those who attempt to attract the elusive attention of consumers.  Perhaps you’ve heard that you, and other media-craving consumers, now may have a shorter attention span than a goldfish (some debunking of that theory here).  Theories abound that it’s the mobile device experience that’s impacting our attention spans, and the up-and-coming generations of consumers is paving the way by demanding quick access to an always-connected, mobile experience.  Younger generations are most likely to “cut the cord” of tethered cable or phone service – preferring and expecting the world to be available to them on their mobile devices, wherever they are.  So before you bring a new offer to market that’s designed to connect with the short attention span of the mobile native generation, it’s important to have a clear strategy to reach your “end game.”


Turning consumers from cord-nevers to subscribers

Communications and entertainment service providers continually innovate, coming up with creative ways to drive new revenue. But, at the end of the day, what makes or breaks that bottom line for service providers? Subscribers.

While the tales of consumers ditching traditional content delivery methods are a touch exaggerated, there is evidence that those consumers – described by terms we love to hate (cord-cutter, cord-never, etc.) are growing. According to Nielsen, 13.8% of American adults last year were consumers that had never subscribed to cable or satellite service. Huge numbers? No – but not insignificant. To succeed, service providers must build a strategy to retain those customers.

Is customer retention a problem for service providers? Sure, but those same service providers are masters of consumer acquisition and have myriad ways to attract and retain consumers. The larger (or more aptly, micro) issue is “the how.” The ever-growing OTT and direct to consumer digital market operates on an important principle – agility.  To compete with these services at the rate in which they launch and adapt, service providers – who are still a preferred source of content – can adopt an expedited approach to ‘keeping up’ and overlook the fundamental question – what’s the end game? Sure, that end game is retaining subscribers, but does the break-neck-pace pressure to keep up lead to creating throw-away functionality that barely moves the meter for consumers?


Ask the right questions to boost customer retention

As a service provider serving a younger, cord-resistant generation – there are three questions that must be addressed when building a retention strategy:

1. How important are existing subscription models to the business? Holding onto those ingrained large package models could compromise consumer retention rather than providing flexible offers like a skinny bundle.

2. What is the lowest barrier of entry that can attract and retain consumers, while still being a viable business model? The balance of price and desirable service is a delicate one, and finding that balance is vital to attracting and retaining consumers. 

3. Are service contracts more important than giving the consumer the peace of mind that they can leave at any time? Guaranteed money is great, but that security may come at the cost of consumer satisfication or brand loyalty.  


Answers to these questions likely meet somewhere in the middle of traditional service providers and pure OTT players. With that, the encouraging news for service providers is they’re already halfway there – and those pure play OTT providers have an uphill battle to provide many of the benefits traditional providers have been offering for years.

Meeting expectations for today’s digital consumer

As consumers push for more streaming and better video quality, it’s not enough to just make video content available for streaming.  The real value to the consumer comes from what you offer that keeps them coming back to your brand for the next episode.  For example, CBS All Access recently launched a TV series, Star Trek: Discovery, only available on their OTT platform which has seen significant results. CBS reported that in only 6 episodes, the series has driven subscriber growth and substantial global fan interest, giving consumers options for how to engage with the CBS brand to gain access to the content they want.


Having the tools necessary for maintaining an exceptional brand image and leveraging existing customer relationships is imperative. The key is to build relationships now so they stick with you over time and today that means offering content packages that include a wide range of Internet TV services – or ‘must have’ features such as personalized viewing experiences and convenient payment options. Put your customers at the center of your strategy – know what they want, when, where and on what device. Having a defined end game strategy for attracting and retaining those customers greatly increases the chances of success.


For more information about attracting and retaining cord-nevers, visit