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Viewer Experience is King for Online Streaming

online streamingPerhaps you’ve heard the phrase “Content is King”. Well, in the world of online streaming the phrase becomes “Viewer Experience is King”. It’s true because no matter how wonderful your video content is (whatever it is), if the viewer can’t see, or stops watching it then none of it matters. So whether you’re streaming video ads for mobile devices or helping clients stream their corporate conferences, remember creating the best experience for the viewer is the top priority.

Coniva, a company that analyses video streaming across the Internet produced a report of their findings regarding the viewer experience. I’ve picked out three key points that you can apply to any online streaming project no matter how big or small.

Make sure your video starts as soon as possible. People on the Internet are a very impatient bunch. If a video doesn’t begin within a very short amount of time, people will simply click away and move on to something else. The Coniva report found that in 2013 the number of videos that failed to start (so a person clicked away) went up 5% as compared to 2012. This is in contrast to most metrics that showed an increase in the quality of online video viewing. Videos fail to start for a number of reasons. You can always do your part to avoid this though, by fully testing your setup. Go to the actual website or page you expect your viewers to use and make sure the video (or test feed if a live event) actually loads. Test on as many devices as possible, which leads to the next point…

Expect all different form factors. There’s been a lot of focus lately on making sure video works on mobile devices. But the Coniva data from the World Cup event showed that desktops were still used the most and for longer viewing periods. Mobile devices were used by about as many people, but the amount of minutes they viewed was less. Coniva described the mobile viewing as “snacking”, where people would watch a little, turn it off, then come back later. People at their desktops sat for longer periods. And if you’re streaming to a large number of people, expect more and more of them to use connected TVs. About 8% of the people watching the World Cup did so on their smart TVs directly connected to the Internet.

Deliver video with low buffering, but in highest quality possible. Coniva found a 31% decrease in the amount of buffering issues in 2013 when compared to 2012. But buffering is still a major issue for viewers when it happens. They examined data over three years from 2011 to 2013 and found that viewer tolerance for buffering decreased. For example, under the same buffering conditions, a viewer watched 8 minutes less video in 2013 than they did in 2011. The viewer simply gave up more often in 2013 than in 2011. People expect higher quality now for every stream. In fact, Coniva also found that HD video movies are watched twice as long as standard definition.

And here’s a bonus point for anyone streaming longer term events or programs: Expect viewers to transition between devices. They found that for multiday events like the World Cup or the Olympics, people transitioned between devices throughout the event and even a day. One more reason to make sure you’re able to support as many devices as possible.

Oliver Burt

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