Bad video streams costly

slow video loading logoSix out of 10 videos streams suffer from some sort of glitch, primarily slowness, delays and poor picture quality, according to a new report.

That’s probably no big surprise to regular users of streaming video, but content providers are getting a wake-up call: The quality-control issue cost more than $2 billion in lost viewer time last year, video stream provider Conviva said.

“Viewers watch 250% more of the content when they have an optimal experience with fast startup, little to no buffering, and a high-sustained bitrate for high resolution and visual clarity,” Conviva said in its Viewer Experience Report released Feb. 13.

The breakdown:

  • More than 20 percent of streams suffered from buffering (pauses in the stream).
  • Almost 20 percent were impacted by slow start-up time.
  • 40 percent of streams delivered a low-resolution picture due to low bitrates.

“Viewers are becoming increasing less tolerant of a poor viewing experience,” Conviva chief Darren Feher said. “Shockingly, content providers have little to no visibility into how frequently this intolerance occurs.”

Conviva said it analyzed, in real time, 22.6 billion video streams from viewers in more than 190 countries on 150 major video sites.

Content providers don’t have a lot of control over the obnoxiousness of buffering, however. UK researchers studying the problem say the starts-and-stops “come down to a routing, traffic management or congestion related problem at the ISP.”

When it comes to buffering, “we don’t think that the video streaming example is the best one to use,” researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland said. The EU is funding efforts to speed up the Internet and clean out its pipes.

Conviva has a vested interest in any push to improve the online video experience since it offers “preemptive video stream optimization” for content providers such as ABC, HBO and ESPN. Conviva also provides analytics for its clients.

Crappy video experiences could cost big media as much as another $20 billion through 2017, the company said.

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