Will Buffering Blunt Web TV Biz Models?

In some news that may pose challenges for the business models behind over-the-top video services and even operator-run "TV Everywhere" products, the vast majority of Web surfers are abandoning online videos when streaming issues cause the content to freeze, according to data released Friday by TubeMogul.

According to the online video analytics firm, 81.2 percent of Web video viewers choose to click away when they encounter slow load times, or the video "rebuffers." And the rebuffering issue is not exactly rare, occurring in 6.84 percent of all video streams, according to TubeMogul.

“I think the technology will get there. It’s just not there yet. It really surprised me how common it is,” TubeMogul marketing director David Burch said regarding the number of viewers that abandon an online video when they encounter slow load times.

TubeMogul based its report on a sample of 192.3 million video streams delivered on six "top" video sites and platforms over a two-week period. The company wouldn’t name any individual Websites that encountered buffering problems, but the content delivery networks (CDNs) that delivered the videos were Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM), EdgeCast Networks Inc. , and Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW).

Both short-form videos running two to 10 minutes and full-length TV episodes were tracked in the report. Burch said the majority of the videos that viewers abandoned when encountering buffering problems were short-form clips, suggesting that viewers may be more patient when it comes to watching full-length TV episodes or movies online.

“I think the trend is much more pronounced for short-form content like a music video. Still, the rate at which people will get impatient, and click away, I think it will be an issue,” Burch added.

While some Web-savvy viewers are cutting the cord on cable TV and satellite providers and relying on broadband-fed services like Boxee and Roku Inc. for all their video needs, it's still just a budding trend. If buffering issues are as common as TubeMogul's report indicates, they could affect how much more rapidly (or slowly) consumers may rely solely on the Web-sourced video programming in the future. (See Ronen: Boxee Isn't a Cable Killer and Roku 'Store' Opens With 10 Channels .)

Burch says the statistics could also influence advertisers that are investing in Web video programming. “The stakes are higher. Every day, there are more [online video] ads. These problems, unless they’re addressed, can have a profound impact on an advertiser."

TubeMogul noted that slow load times and rebuffering issues will become a bigger issue for Web publishers as the size of online video audiences continues to grow.

“CDN imperfections like these will be increasingly relevant to the publishers’ bottom lines. When you consider that one out of 25 streams experiences a rebuffer and most people click away when that happens, it’s probably fair to conclude that far fewer ads are getting clicked (or watched),” the company wrote in its report.

— Steve Donohue, Special to Cable Digital News

OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 3:51:03 PM
re: Will Buffering Blunt Web TV Biz Models?

Just all that cheap bandwidth and routers - no switches.

Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:51:03 PM
re: Will Buffering Blunt Web TV Biz Models?

Buffering delays are hardly new to us.  The internet is broken and has been for a long time.  Whether it come in form of a TCP fix, or infrastructure thru put advance, the opportunity is there for many suppliers to deliver SP's solutions.  Also a great opportunuty for creativity over advertising.

There are many great solutions there in waiting.  I am hopeful that as we come into recovery the carriers will see what they need to do.  They are already seeing the need and testing 10GbE in D servers for IPTV, case in point.  Of course, IPTV is a revenue strategy they are willing to spend on now to acquire customers.  Same holds true internationally.

tmmarvel 12/5/2012 | 3:51:01 PM
re: Will Buffering Blunt Web TV Biz Models?

OldPOTS - guess you're being ironic. It's actually quite difficult to recover the cost of IP router and the high bandwidth delivery network capacity with IP video/TV dominated traffic, which is a lot lower revenue density than your plain old telephone traffic or other traditional forms of traffic that demanded QoS guarantees.

OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 3:50:58 PM
re: Will Buffering Blunt Web TV Biz Models?

I was being sarcastic, but it is ironic that a few years ago this problem was LR/CDN discussed/posted, warning that tiers needed to be created then or that to continue to market BW distinguished products would make subscribers really mad when BW/quantity tiers were introduced. The answer was just buy more cheap BW and routers/switches.

The Biz models were based an false statistical traffic sharing models. Live Video was and will be the problem. Note that emails, twitter and and social networking can also provide much of this high BW video traffic that causes disruptive delays in high speed packet networks. Note compressed video makes the delay much more subscriber abrasive.

They may have to spend money on real QoS with reserved resources, not more CoS solutions. To match those marketed high BW access, solutions will have to approach dedicated BW, without those antagonizing tiers.

joferrei 12/5/2012 | 3:50:56 PM
re: Will Buffering Blunt Web TV Biz Models?

I tend to agree. A solution that should work for all (except possibly the tech vendors locked to one-big-IP-cloud models, without effective resource isolation capabilities..) is to separate the different revenue-density services to their different, dedicated network pools.

That would avoid the need for tiered services (which someone will always, with politically oriented agenda, try to argue is unfair) within any such pools dedicated to their respective application urgency and revenue-density classes.

At least I haven't heard any one seriously demanding to be able to use network capacity from a different (enterprise) customers' leased line based network in the name of fair access or net neutrality.

Still, one would need to improve the basic cost efficiency of dedicated resource based networks; perhaps the 'packet transport' or 'packet-optical' developments pursued by telcos as next gen upgrade for traditional leased lines might be a solution there.

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