Commentary

Bad Buffering Is A Quick Way To Lose Viewers

Nothing drives me crazier than bad, slow service, and a new survey from video optimization company Conviva confirms the idea that frustration applies pretty much to online diversions, too.

Its new OTT Beyond Entertainment report says among other things, that nearly 20% of its respondents say they give up immediately if a video they want is of poor quality; 59%  will wait a short while; 24% say they’ll stay, well, for as long as it takes.

When it comes to bad buffering, 25% just won’t have any part of it; 59% give it time to fix itself; 17% apparently like to see animated circles spinning on their computers forever, though it is surely the opposite of soothing.

And, Conviva says, 20% of the people who encounter balky/bad video experiences repay the inconvenience by deciding they’re never, ever coming back.

A Conviva survey earlier this year showed the same basic results: In that survey of 750 adults, 49% said they’d close a badly performing video and try again; 29% said they’d seek out the video somewhere else. And 11% said they’d stop watching video altogether.

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In this new survey of 500 users, youth seem to be the most patient sufferers of bad video; older folks get their crab on at a far greater rate. For interrupted video, 18.4% of viewers 18-34 will abandon it, but almost 35% of people 45-54 will put up with it; 36.6% of people 55 and over--the group that still may remember when they gave a TV set time to “warm up”--will quit on badly interrupted videos. Indeed, young people, arguably the most technologically sophisticated, are also the ones most unfazed by bad video. 

All of those abandonment issues add up. “For services delivering episodic, or serialized, content, this could be a devastating blow,” Conviva notes. “Every view lost to a disappointing experience is not just an instant reduction in audience, it contributes to the future degradation of audience numbers.”

To me, the upside is that in a world of disappointing consumer interaction with products it’s hard to hold a grudge, not because you’re a kindly sort but because you forget.

This survey says 52% don’t remember, but 48%, unfortunately for bad video purveyors, do recall lousy things. And of those, 92% actively stay away, if “actively” not doing something is possible.

Conviva’s study does suggest some bad video experiences are not as insufferable as others. Oddly, while overall 17% will abandon a lousy video experience, the least likely (9.2%) to do so are people watching entertainment videos. I say “oddly” because that watching video as a diversion would suggest the consumer wants a totally enjoyable performance.

But Conviva suggests entertainment consumers are more caught up in seeing what they want to see, even if the seeing isn’t so good. In short, the play’s the thing, as Willie Shakespeare observed back in the 16th Century.

I don’t think Shakespeare said anything about buffering and freezing, however; 24% of those watching a badly burping entertainment video will exit. 

Conversely, viewers who have a fine, uninterrupted, clear video view of educational, self-improvement or general entertainment videos remember the good times; in all of those categories, more than 40% say they’re ready to come back to video places they remember as good visual experiences.

pj@mediapost.com

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