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Third Party Versus Club Branded App Streaming: Which to Choose?

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For clubs worldwide, COVID-19 highlighted the need to maintain a connection to members even when the doors close. Digital connection, often through an app, became urgent and essential. But with all the potential moving parts in a club’s digital platform, how can operators know what type of app streaming they need?

Two possibilities exist: third party or club branded. Third party apps — external/standalone apps — enable members to access content through an app offered by a third party, made available by, but external to, the club. Club branded apps — integrated apps — make content accessible to members through the club’s branded app as part of its overall digital platform.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Knowing these at the outset can help a club owner choose the direction that works best for both the club and member.

Third Party Apps for Content Streaming

Advantages

  • Gives members access to popular, often quality content.
  • Can have member familiarity with proven products — such as Centr by Chris Hemsworth.
  • Can sometimes be inexpensive, but not always.
  • Implementing is quick.

Disadvantages

  • Gives someone else control of the member experience outside of the club, as well as control over content and quality.
  • Is difficult to monetize.
  • You could lose the opportunity to build the club’s brand value.
  • Takes members away from the club’s portal/web hub.
  • Provides no, or limited, access to valuable data to optimize club experience.
  • Not integrated into the club’s main digital backbone, its club management software (CMS).

Club Branded Apps for Content Streaming

Advantages

  • Builds affinity/credibility for the club’s brand
  • Lets the club control content and quality.
  • Can create specialized content unique to clubs and members.
  • Helps the club create a more holistic fitness ecosystem, taking into account the fitness continuum inside the club and out.
  • Access to valuable member usage and preferences data to optimize club and member experience.
  • Can monetize the experience.
  • Offers a single sign-on for an easier, better member experience.

Disadvantages

  • Takes more time to implement.
  • Costs more sometimes in the immediate-term, though less expensive in the long run.
  • Requires expertise to implement.
  • Means the club must dedicate time to produce quality content (unless they work with a digital fitness partner that white-labels quality content).

Armed with the advantages and disadvantages of third party versus club branded app content streaming, there are also additional considerations that weigh into the decision, one of which is budget. Another is the commitment to digital. Is the club’s commitment long-term or temporary? The timeline for implementation is key, too, because while COVID-19 has made the digital connection to members more urgent, it has also shown the necessity of getting it right, which includes defining the desired member experience against the current digital offering.

A defined member journey will help both the club and member connect along various touchpoints, deepening the relationship. Furthermore, most clubs already have a CMS and other digital components their content streaming app must play well within to deliver the right experiences along that journey. Today, it’s about connection — inside the club and out. And choosing an app solution for content streaming is an important tool to facilitate it.

Mendel Witzenhausen is co-founder and CTIO of digital fitness technology company FunXtion, transforming the health and fitness industry by delivering tailor-made content and intelligence solutions. Niels Buningh is managing partner of video software company VIXY Video, providing tools to professionally manage, publish, and analyze video.

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