An over-the-top (OTT) platform is the best, most effective way to build a resilient fitness business. It scales easily, has custom tools for engagement and monetization, and helps you hold onto members for life- if you do it right. Here’s how to make OTT work for you.
Why are OTT fitness platforms so popular?
Convenience is the biggest selling point for an online fitness platform. It fits into any schedule. Users can log in from anywhere with internet. There’s no travel involved, either, so they can be ready for a workout in minutes. Just those two factors eliminate the most common excuses for skipping a session.
Safety has become another major consideration. Only 45% of people who used to regularly use gyms have gone back since the pandemic.
The perception is that a crowded gym isn’t safe yet. Experts are conflicted on when that idea will fade; for now, OTT fitness platforms let users stay healthy without taking risks..
There’s also the issue of value. OTT fitness platforms are more affordable than a gym workout, but still give users access to expertise, structure, and variety.
The fundamentals of a successful OTT fitness platform
The good news is that many of the skills you need to build an online fitness platform are the same ones you’re using now to run your brick and mortar business. Just follow these core concepts to stay on the right track.
Design content with your members in mind.
The audience you have online is not going to be the same audience that comes into your studio. You need to identify what it is that makes them different in order to present your content in the most accessible way.
It may be helpful to ask questions like:
- Who is your OTT audience?
- How often do they work out?
- What equipment do they need for your workouts? How can they get those items?
- Can workouts be adjusted if the user is travelling?
- How tech-savvy are your members? Do you need to create a tutorial for your platform, or will having it be intuitive and directed be enough?
Once you know who you’re creating for, look through content you’ve already created and see what translates well to an OTT fitness platform.
You should have a comfortable catalogue of pre-made content that members can explore right away, with a clear path through content based on their fitness goals. Quizzes are a fantastic way to suggest content and gather feedback from your members at the same time. Consider leveraging them when possible.
Most importantly, set a minimum content schedule and don’t deviate from it without a very good reason. It’s fine to post extra content, but try not to disappoint your audience by skipping a post. Work ahead when you can to avoid disruptions, or have guest session leaders on standby if you can’t make a live session.
Make the most of monetization.
Along with control, money is one of the top two reasons fitness entrepreneurs launch an OTT platform. Posting to YouTube is only a good income stream for the top 3% or so.
96% of creators don’t make enough from YouTube’s partner program to cross the poverty line. Even that top 3% has to worry about unexpected demonetization due to policy changes or algorithm errors.
Owning your OTT fitness platform gives you many more options for monetization.
- Subscription fees: Over half of the global revenue from OTT fitness platforms comes from subscription fees. Users are comfortable with streaming subscriptions now, and willing to pay for good content.
- Premium content: Having a tiered platform is another popular structure, with both free content and premium content that comes with an upcharge. This is a good approach to a new or uncertain audience, since it lets them try your platform before spending.
- Early access to new content: A variation on the free-premium content model is to have all new content drop early for higher-tier members. This encourages new users to subscribe. Once your content wins them over, they won’t want to wait for more.
- Exclusive extra training sessions: The overhead of a full studio can price private training out of most people’s reach. OTT sessions cost you less to run, which you can pass on to your members. They spend less while you make more.
- Branded merchandise: If there’s one thing the fitness community loves, it’s sharing what worked for them. Branded merchandise is bragging rights for them and free advertising for you.
- Ad sharing and sponsorships: You have access to all the same kinds of ad sharing and sponsorship opportunities on your own platform as you would on YouTube. The difference is control- you decide how much to use and who to partner with.
Use platform tools to keep members engaged.
An OTT fitness platform may be more convenient than in-studio classes, but you still need to build a habit of opening and using your platform to retain members.
Tools like email updates, push notifications, and calendar integrations alert members about upcoming classes and events. You can also allow users to schedule themselves to go through catalogue content, with notifications to help them stay on track.
I have a studio. Is an OTT fitness platform still useful to me?
Even studios that focus on brick-and-mortar classes can benefit from OTT. Consider it extra income without much extra investment. You can use staff training sessions to create new content, and you already have a set and the physical equipment needed. Diverse income streams can stabilize your studio through market fluctuations, making you a more resilient business.
Think about member loyalty, too. OTT offers your current members extra content which makes them feel like they’re getting more value for their membership fee.
Plus, an online platform lets you hang onto members who might otherwise leave. Whether they’re unsure about the pandemic, moving away from your studios, or just nervous about working out in the studio, having the online option gives them a step between “coming in weekly” and “leaving forever”.
Finally, many studio owners find that an OTT fitness platform can be a useful funnel to their in-studio classes. Curious newcomers use your app, get excited, then look for a studio nearby. If there’s not one close to them, they might generate enough buzz to justify another location (or possibly a franchise!).
OTT has a bright future
The things we’ve talked about here aren’t secret. The major players in the fitness industry see the value of OTT, and most have already taken advantage of it. Others are following as technology puts it in their reach.
In 2019 the fitness streaming market was estimated at around $6 billion. Those in the know expect it to hit nearly $60 billion by 2027. For a flexible, disruption-resistant technology like streaming platforms, that’s as sure a bet as you’re going to find.
Are you ready to claim your share of the OTT market? FanHero has created platforms for fitness leaders at all levels. Contact us to find out how easy it is to get started!