Subscription-based Websites Get Harder to Scale

by | Feb 26, 2021 | 0 comments

Currently developing a subscription-based site I wanted to impart what I faced when building it. Based on data from Statista there will be over 198 million U.S. members to subscription-based sites within three years – and growing rapidly.

Currently, online user video ‘watch-time’ averages five hours per day and is filled with incredible diversity, quality, and volume of content. It follows you from device to device throughout the day and video viewing has become personal.

That scale, rapid growth, and personalization puts incredible pressure on any new subscription platform despite better technology as consumer expectations are extremely demanding.  Subscribers want ease of use, TV-like experience, and flexibility.

From my experience, the biggest problem starts with the seemingly harmless login button. Once the subscriber hits the login a myriad of activity starts. Requests are initiated to directories, billing systems, rights management platforms, third parties that authorize access and other customer transparent technologies – that all need to work flawlessly.

To me, there are four critical areas that require attention:

1. Platform scalability: High service availability and fluid responsiveness needs to be a primary design principal that is integrated into your identity and access management software at inception.

2. Capacity planning: How many subscriptions are expected and what kind of service levels are you targeting? Working backwards from this answer, your streaming services must stand up to load tests.

3. Failures: There needs to be a plan for how failures will be contained. For example, forcing the process into a temporary mode that can catch up once all systems are again available vs. just crashing. In short, every potential failure needs to be analyzed and problem-solved.

4. Early subscription tactics: The initial rush to subscribe and the resulting stress to the platform can be mitigated by encouraging early registration, using exclusive or  teaser content.

Access and ease of use by subscribers will drive customer loyalty – the lifeblood of any direct-to-consumer site. Here are several best-to-use tactics.

  1. Customer Engagement: A single login and ease of access across all content and data available and reduce as many subscription and payment processing challenges as possible.
  2. Lifetime Value: The sign-up page should serve as a utility that manages the full customer life-cycle. It should be integrated with reporting, email, and CRM systems. It should tell you who is engaged, who is likely to churn, and who needs a login reminder.


The most important attribute of subscription-based sites is trustworthiness. Subscribers must be able to trust the content.  Additionally, it  must bestow a great experience as subscribers will be holding you to the same high standard that the mega- streamers are providing.

NOTE: Update to this article – 2/26/21. 4M Performance is no longer a subscription based website. We found that the labor, time, and marketing expense over-shadowed the benefits so now all content on the 4M Performance site is FREE to ALL. Come Visit Us.

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Categories: Business Tips

By Jim Lavorato

Jim Lavorato is the founder of 4M Performance which is designed to assist businesses to survive and thrive in these uncertain times. Jim launched an entertainment-related company in 1988. He was at the forefront in cinema technology and helped spearhead the movie industry's transition to digital presentation and distribution. He also co-founded the Arboreal Group, an environmental consultancy. He has published articles on the motion picture and media industries and is a contributing editor for ScreenTrade magazine and writes a blog "Cinema Mucho Gusto". He is a certified SCORE Mentor in the SCORE Greater Phoenix Chapter and lives in Scottsdale, AZ. Learn more about Jim in his "About" page.

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