Third party vs. club branded app streaming: which to choose?
COVID-19 highlighted for clubs worldwide 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 – or external/stand-alone 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 – or 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. And knowing those at the outset can help a club owner choose the direction that works best for both club and member.
Third Party Apps for content streaming
- Gives members access to popular, often quality content
- Proven product members may already be familiar with (Centr by Chris Hemsworth)
- Can sometimes be inexpensive, but not always
- Quick to implement
- Gives someone else control of member experience outside of the club, as well as control over content and quality
- Difficult to monetize
- Lose the opportunity to build club’s brand value
- Takes members away from club’s portal/web hub
- No (or limited) access to valuable data to help optimize club experience
- Not integrated into club’s main digital backbone, its Club Management System (CMS)
Club Branded Apps for content streaming
- Builds affinity/credibility for club’s brand
- Club controls content and quality
- Can create specialized content unique to the club and its members
- Helps club create a more holistic fitness ecosystem – taking into account the fitness continuum inside the club and out
- Access 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
- Takes more time to implement
- Sometimes costs more in the immediate-term, though less expensive in the long-run
- Requires expertise to implement
- 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 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 a current digital offering. A defined member journey will help both 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 with to deliver the right experiences along the 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.