You’ve heard the line--the food’s not good, but the portions are large.
A report from the growing San Francisco performance analytics firm Mux that charted viewer attitudes about video streaming comes up with a similar finding: Viewers are not so very critical of the quality of the video they receive. But they hate to be kept waiting or be buffered to death.
Mux quizzed over 1,000 consumers from 18 to 44, and determined that the quality of the video is the least likely reason they’ll quit watching. I should quickly point out more than half (57.3%) will still go away if the picture quality is miserable, but by comparison, that’s pretty good.
Far more of a buzzkill is everything else that can happen: 47% are “frustrated” by videos that stall or rebuffer and 85% have quit watching because of it; 19.9% are driven up a wall by videos that fail on playback or show an error message; and 18.8% are irked by videos that are slow to load and start--and 85% have quit trying when it happens, too.
Only 14.3% are actually frustrated by a bad picture-- as long as there is some kind of picture, apparently.
Altogether nearly 93% have abandoned a video because of some hassle actually playing it/seeing it.
Moving from what bugs them to how often it does, video stalls and rebuffers is the most frequent problem they encounter, (41.4%). Slow loads get second place on the frequency list at 26%. Playback that fails or flashes an error message is the most frequent problem for 17.5%
These are problems that drive me mad and generally I won’t put up with the bad stuff. (That’s what I tell myself, anyway.)
According to the Mux survey, I’m not alone, but I’m sort of impressed that by measure, video viewers are, on balance, a rather forgiving bunch.
Yes it is true nearly 5% stop trying the moment a video malfunctions and 15.6% will give just one more chance. Then cooler heads begin to prevail: 52.3% will try “two or three” times; 20.5% will give four to six chances; and the Mother Theresa contingent (6.5%) will keep plugging away even after video gives them trouble seven or more times. They must have perfect blood pressure.
Actually OTT streamers live a relatively charmed existence. The largest percentage of those surveyed blame their Internet supplier or their own Wi-Fi for slow loading or rebuffering hassles, not the content supplier, though the content app publisher gets knocked for playback failures and lousy picture and a share of everything else. The smart TV or streaming provider (like Roku or Apple) gets little blame for anything.
A current report on the stalling/buffering/swearing at your device issue gets the attention of eMarketer, where I first heard of the Mux report. It doesn’t offer a lot of advice, but offers some sympathy: “The challenge for media and advertising executives seeking to prevent such issues is that there is no single cause for video streaming quality problems, and that some of these problems are out of their control.”
That’s also what cable companies used to say when the repairman was late.
The means exist to easily solve this problem.
Adaptive bit rate (ABR) video formats HLS and DASH provide streams that adjust to local bandwidth limits.
If you are in a subway travelling from Times Square to Canal Street, hesitations and failures are unavoidable. :-) Ohterwise there is no excuse for poor performance. ABR video gracefully degrades to speeds as low as 256kbps. There is a flavor and a player that will work on every device built over the last 4 years.
Single datarate MP4s work when adjacent to a well provisioned wifi antenna. In the real world MP4s are going to choke a lot of 3G and 4G devices. They may look good on desktops but telco connected smart phones may gag.