NTM captures sports fanatics with live TV to strengthen subscriber loyalty

By Jens Pettersson


Stockholm, Sweden


Yay! A new subscriber arrives.

Darn! The new subscriber leaves.

Anyone reading articles like this one are aware of this problem: Churn is, by far, the biggest challenge for digital subscription business. Initially it’s been a constant source of swear words. In the next phase, hopefully it will foster creativity.

NTM readers interested in live TV sports spend a lot of time consuming content.
NTM readers interested in live TV sports spend a lot of time consuming content.

Every media company in the world longs for loyal subscribers. The key question is: What we can do to hold on to the paying customer just a little longer?

At NTM in Sweden, we have been focusing on analysis of our journalism for a while. We’re mostly digging deeper into what topics create higher engagement and, based on those findings, working hard to get our 19 newsrooms to follow our joint content strategy. This is all with the purpose of ensuring we create value for our paying subscribers.

Going deeper into this process, we have been putting together user behaviour and subscription data in the analysis. More specifically, we have taken a deeper look at the correlation between content consumption and time as a customer.

When doing that, one kind of journalistic product stands out: live TV sports.

We have analysed data collected between October 2021 and April 2022. During this period, we have been broadcasting soccer in lower divisions in October to November and February to April. And we’ve broadcasted floorball in the highest Swedish division October to April.

A total of 651 matches were broadcast during this time period, and we had 1,288 subscription purchases made directly on live sports articles. On average, we had 1,442 pageviews by subscribers per article, and, on average, each unique user has watched 17 minutes per match.

Since most of these matches are between local teams in lower divisions, the numbers are high for us.

Looking at the financial outcomes, we can conclude this has been well-invested money for us — especially when we turn our eyes on what happens with those subscribers that consume a lot of live TV sports. These high-consuming customers stay for a significantly longer period and generate a lot more money annually than they would have without live TV sports.

Another upside of broadcasting these matches is that we can include them in a premium subscription (“premium digital”) and charge more money than we do for the “basic digital” subscription. The revenue generated in the diversification of these subscription levels is substantial.

To be honest, these kinds of revenue calculations are quite hard to do. There can, of course, be many different explanations of why a subscriber stays. But when doing the analysis, we have been hard on ourselves and leaning toward the lower end of everything.

Still, the results are really good. When adding the potential revenue stream from advertising, we can see that live sports TV is definitely a kind of journalistic content we will hold on to and explore further in the future.

If you want to maximise the value output even more and increase the engagement around the live broadcasts, what can you do

Besides just showing the matches, we now try to build an even more reader-centric approach into our Web sites next to the live experiences. We are testing live feeds where reporters can chat with viewers/readers about the game and involve them in co-creation, letting them vote on “player of the match” or giving grades to each player, just as our expert reporters do. This is still in its early stage, but we see a great interest in participating.

About Jens Pettersson

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