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How top digital media companies manage today's subscribers

Digitization is at once a huge opportunity for traditional media companies, as well as a considerable risk. It's a risk well worth taking, though. Viewer demographics are becoming increasingly fractured, as consumers access content across a wide variety of platforms, including both digital and traditional formats. As Accenture noted, traditional revenue streams no longer present the growth opportunities the media industry is accustomed to, and swift change is necessary to make the proper course corrections.

To keep up with these trends, media companies must embrace digital transformation and reshape their offerings to better engage today's audience. Several top digital media companies have already successfully made this change, discovering new ways to reach viewers, regardless of which platforms they use. Here are a few of the ways leading members of the entertainment industry are focusing their efforts around digital transformation:

QVC Diversifies Outreach Channels

QVC has been synonymous with television-based direct response advertising. With viewership trends skewing away from traditional cable packages as more consumers opt for cord-cutting alternatives, media companies like QVC need to meet their audience wherever they go and on whatever platform they prefer.

In QVC's case, the answer was focusing on digital channels. In particular, it was able to pivot toward its website to maintain healthy user engagement and make it easier for its audience to purchase items featured both online and on television.

According to ZDNet, 52 percent of QVC sales come from e-commerce platforms. Moreover, approximately three-quarters of new QVC customers make their first purchase using the company's website -- and on a mobile device, in many cases.

QVC's mentality is to continue providing customers with unique products and competitive price points -- but doing so over a wider variety of touch points than ever before. The company has even branched out into digital media applications that can be accessed by cord-cutters through platforms like Roku. Despite the issues the cable industry has experienced with dwindling subscriptions, QVC maintains a robust viewership, reaching more than 240 million households across the globe.

"We are making ourselves a primary digital first experience and translating a brand experience we have," said QVC senior vice president Alex Miller in the ZDNet article. "The fragmentation is starting to accelerate. We have to be discovered on any platform and have seamless purchasing."

Brazil's Grupo RBS Weathers the Media Storm

Brazil's print, radio and cable media has experienced a similar drop in subscriptions as those in the United States. Grupo RBS, a media conglomerate owning three newspapers, five radio stations 12 television stations could see the way the wind was blowing, and responded accordingly.

Like many other media companies, Grupo RBS saw advertising revenue plunge over the course of the past two decades as the internet and digital channels introduced additional competition for viewers. The organization decided rather than fight back against the changing tide, it would embrace digital media, focusing its efforts on moving its audience over from print to web-based subscriptions.

The gambit has paid off: Grupo RBS' digital circulation has grown 58 percent year over year, as reported by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The media company strives to generate content that can appeal to both digital-native subscribers who expect a user experience that's optimized for mobile platforms like tablets as well as traditional readers who are interested in content that replicates the experience of perusing a newspaper combined with the convenience of digital.

BTN Finds New Life in Omnichannel

Media companies with specialized or niche target areas need to be especially aggressive with their digital transformation projects to keep audience members engaged. It's imperative they chase their viewers as the content they produce may not necessarily appeal to large segments of the population.

The Big Ten Network has been, in many ways, the first of its kind: a cable television network devoted to a single collegiate athletic conference. The BTN is in a unique position, as the vast majority of the athletic programs it represents are based in the Midwest, but its target audience of alumni and fans is spread out across the U.S.

Given the specialized nature of its programming as well as the various cable providers it must work with in different regions, the BTN must find ways to reach viewers outside of traditional cable subscriptions.

In addition to working with digital platforms like Hulu and YouTube to provide cord-cutters access to its programming, BTN has also piloted the "multiplatform video producer/editor" (MVPE) project to offer more digestible short-form content that can be readily shared on social media networks. MVPE offers unparalleled access to team practices, locker room discussions and other behind-the-scenes events -- all packaged in quick, social-ready sound bites.

The main takeaway here is that digital media companies need to follow their audience wherever they go. In many cases, that will mean shifting focus away from traditional channels in favor of popular digital platforms like social media, mobile applications and web-based content. Those that embrace digital transformation, however, will find new opportunities to increase subscriptions and grow revenue.

Sophisticated customer identity management solution can not only enable secure and efficient management of millions of subscriber identities, but also provide a clear window into customer journeys -- tracking choices and behavior across all devices and applications. Akamai's solutions tailored for the needs of media and publishing can help you boost subscriptions and create a stronger omnichannel subscriber experience.