Subscribed Podcast: DAZN’s Chris Haigh on subscriber acquisition and retention

By Aarthi Rayapura January 4, 2019

Select excerpts from Subscribed Podcast with Chris Haigh, Director of Product, Web, Acquisition & Retention at DAZN.

Chris Haigh is the Director of Product, Web, Acquisition & Retention at DAZN. DAZN is the first global pure-sport live and on-demand streaming service. It’s currently available in seven markets across three continents. Prior to DAZN, Chris was with McKinsey & Company, where he advised and led clients through their digital transformation journeys.

We talk to Chris about DAZN’s US launch, subscriber acquisition and retention strategies, and lots more!

Select excerpts:

DAZN launched in the US this Fall. Can you tell us how that’s going?
We’re delighted to be in the US. Obviously, it’s like all the pop bands coming over from Britain, right? If you can crack it in the US, you can crack it anywhere. We’re completely stoked to be there, and that’s our seventh market after Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, and Canada. Our ambition is to be in 20 markets by 2020 and we’re on course to reach that.

Our US offering is an interesting one because, in a number of other markets, we have bid for and come into that market with some of the prime sports rights whereas in the US we’ve looked at it slightly differently. It’s an incredibly competitive market and mainstream sports are tied up for a few years. So we launched with a fight sports offering. The idea here is to take on pay-per-view. For a simple monthly price, you get a bunch of sports – one big fight night a month plus a bunch of other things. We’ve recently announced a deal with MLB starting in 2019, so I think we’ll start to see that content package getting richer.

Your work at DAZN focuses on subscriber acquisition and retention…do you find that you need to vary your strategies for every market or are sports fans more or less the same everywhere?
There are some similarities. I think we have been able to and probably desire to keep consistent messaging at least on our brand as a very ambitious and engaging proposition. But clearly, the messaging is going to be very different if we’re attracting fight fans versus fishing aficionados. So if you think about it, the rights in different markets have an impact. But there are also big cultural differences that we need to take into account and we have to localize. We’re constantly reviewing segments and propositions in local markets.

For example, in the West in general, we always think about low friction in our sign-up process. So if you reduce friction and it’s a simple journey, then fewer people will drop off and more people will sign up. Whereas in Japan, customers are used to reading a lot of information before they commit to something. So, adding a bunch of additional information increased our conversion.

And sports fans–again, take that comparison to Japan and the US–act very differently. For example, in the US, we found a slightly higher proportion of social sports fans. They like to watch sports with friends and family in public. What we found is it’s really important to them to be seen as the expert on sports. So having access to really obscure data or information gives them something to talk about when they’re having their beer. But try that back in Japan where people are more discreet, and celebrating a score in front of a rival fan would never happen.

As the Director of Product, how much do your subscribers influence your decisions? At what stage of development do you engage with them?

At every stage prior to the launch of a new feature or a new market we’re doing a ton of research. The great thing about being an OTT business is that we get real-time data on every customer interaction. The insights we can gather and act upon are fantastic. For example, we can predict within seven days of a customer being with us on a free trial, how long they’re likely to stay with DAZN based on their engagement in those seven days. Because we are a subscription business, customers vote with their feet. So if the content isn’t good enough, or there’s a problem with the service, then they’ll leave. And that’s a much stronger indicator than any of the feedback on social media or via surveys that you can gather.

At McKinsey, you advised and led clients through their digital transformation journeys–this journey is very relevant to the Subscription Economy. What were the common challenges that you saw? Are there similarities across industries?

I think every company now aspires to be a digital innovator. I think some of them are brave enough to disrupt themselves, and perhaps others too afraid of upsetting their cash cow.

It’s a widely accepted paradigm that speed and agility are the key arsenal in the digital battleground now. I think many organizations from the board downward are struggling with the required cultural shift that’s needed to embrace that. There’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with funding and empowering super smart people to create awesome solutions to new problems over new technologies. Because the way that we’re used to working is we find something based on an expected output, and obviously every executive, every manager, every investor, wants that certainty because they feel comfortable with it, and uncomfortable without it. I think that’s probably the most common theme I’ve seen in every organization that I’ve worked across.

The other thing I see a lot, and this is particularly relevant I think with Zuora and other cloud platforms that I’ve worked with in the past, like salesforce.com, is enterprise organizations who have the desire to move quickly finding the right balance between setting up and customizing platforms. So buying or subscribing to enterprise software, versus developing in-house can be a real challenge to solve, especially at the start of the journey.

Ensuring you have the right building blocks to move quickly, but they can also scale as you scale, and you’re not buying and customizing throw away tech, but you’re also not designing and building a cathedral – I think that’s a really common challenge. It’s very difficult to get right, and as always, finding the right talent to support you whether that’s the partners, your own staff, or external advisors is really the only way to help you through that.

To learn more on how Zuora helps DAZN go-to-market quickly, scale easily, and expand globally, read the case study

For more on all things subscriptions, check out previous episodes of the Subscribed Podcast here

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