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Published September 6th 2021

Streaming Wars: The Most Common Customer Pain Points

In a competitive market place, complaints need to be dealt with swiftly to avoid churn. Discover the most common pain points around some of the biggest on-demand video services.

Online streaming platforms have kept captive audiences entertained since the pandemic began, and many of us have splashed out on new on-demand video subscriptions during that time.

While there’s no shortage of choice for the consumer, streaming platforms are engaged in a fierce battle for market share.

That’s why we decided to turn our attention to customer pain points with streaming platforms. Analyzing how people talk about the things that annoy them about different platforms could offer some clues as to the features or content that will eventually lead to churn for one company and new customers for another. 

Finding pain points

We set about finding these pain points by creating search queries for mentions with phrases like “I hate when” or “annoying when” appearing near the names of popular on-demand video services. We searched for these in public social media posts (excluding retweets), blogs, forums, etc from January 2020 to June 2021. This returned around 7,000 mentions.

We then broke down the most common words and phrases within those mentions to understand the top complaints.

The most common pain points around streaming services

So, what are the pain points? Prepare for a list of first-world problems that surfaced from all the data.

1. Advert gripes

Ads are rarely appreciated, especially if they’re getting in the way of you and your favorite show.

That said, we found a number of complaints that went beyond simply complaining about the presence of ads. For some, the audio of ads was jarring, particularly if it seemed too loud. For others, being asked to choose an ad experience was annoying – this often meant they’d need to interact with a remote in order to get the ad process over with quicker.

2. Incomplete series, seasons, or trilogies

This is all about the feeling you get when you notice a show you want to watch is on your streaming platform of choice, but when you click through you find they don’t have all the seasons, or even that the seasons that are available aren’t in chronological order.

This is a tricky problem for streaming platforms – is it better to host half a show’s seasons and risk annoying those who want to watch the missing ones, or simply not host the show at all?  

3. Cancelled shows

It’s always a bummer when your favorite show gets cancelled, and this tragedy often prompts a large group of consumers to express their dissatisfaction online.

Of course, if fans make a big enough fuss online some entertainment companies have been known to backtrack on their decisions.

4. Subtitle issues

Inaccurate, missing, or inadequate subtitles are a major pain point for many people.

Examples of complaints include:

  • Characters’ names spelled incorrectly in subtitles, leading to confusion. 
  • Foreign-language subtitles appearing simply as “Speaks x language” as opposed to actually translating what’s being said.
  • When subtitles are badly timed, so they’re not quite matched with what’s being said on screen.

Subtitle issues are far from impossible to fix, and could help streaming services become more accessible.

5. Issues with remote controls

Have you ever been asked by a streaming platform if you’re still watching a show, only to find your remote is lost under your blanket or on the other side of the room? It turns out people find that kind of annoying.

People misplacing their remotes while they’re watching movies or shows might not be something streaming services can easily control, but perhaps there are alternatives to hand-held devices that could be created and/or promoted, like voice commands.

6. Removed shows or movies

Finally, streaming services removing shows or movies from their platforms is a big annoyance. People were particularly annoyed if they had seen something they planned to watch and then came to find it had been taken down.

A potential way to combat this is by labelling movies or shows that are going to be removed soon, so expectations are managed around how long they’ll be kept online.

The bottom line

Looking at the above list, we see a lot of complaints that relate to the content streaming services provide (missing content, removed content, and cancelled content). This makes sense – a streaming service is only really as good as the content it hosts.

That said, UX is also an important thing to keep in mind when trying to retain customers. Delighting them with superior controls and interfaces is one thing, but getting the basics (like subtitles) right is also super important.

Of course, the above complaints are a general overview of common pain points for streaming services in general. Each service is unique, and understanding what users love and hate in particular can help streaming platforms retain their customers.

This data originally appeared in the Brandwatch Bulletin. If you want in on the action, get subscribed now to get future editions straight to your inbox.

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