Multiscreen Viewers Want Better Views

Despite a decline in video buffering rates, multiscreen viewers expect much greater improvements in video streaming quality than service providers are delivering so far.

Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

March 31, 2014

3 Min Read
Multiscreen Viewers Want Better Views

Although the quality of streaming video may be improving at a modest pace, it's not improving nearly fast enough for the majority of video viewers.

In a new study on the state of video streaming released Monday, Conviva Inc. reported that consumers are notably less tolerant of video buffering delays and other playback problems than they were just two years ago. In one sign of this growing intolerance, the study found that the amount of time lost from a viewing session with a 1% increase in buffering more than doubled from three minutes in 2011 to eight minutes in 2013. This indicates that viewers switched away from videos with buffering issues a lot sooner than before.

In another sign of growing consumer impatience with poor video streaming delivery quality, the Conviva study found that viewers particularly bolt if they experience playback problems while watching live sports, entertainment, or other live action events in HD. The average viewing time of live action programming in HD plunged from 40 minutes to just one minute when users ran into buffering delays.

Such delivery quality problems will likely make it tougher for service providers to attract and retain subscribers for their multiscreen video offerings. "In those instances, one bad viewing experience on a single device puts all screens at risk," said Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst of nScreen Media, in a prepared statement. "Continuity of quality across screens is very important."

While streaming video delivery quality is not improving as quickly as consumers want or expect, it is steadily improving, according to Conviva. Its latest global study of 45 billion video streams sent across more than 1.6 billion playback devices found that video buffering actually fell from 39.3% in 2012 to 26.9% last year.

In another sign of improvement, Conviva found that low-resolution delivery of video streams dropped to 43.3% last year from a whopping 63% in 2012. But, even with that improvement, "more than two in five views were grossly inferior video quality, " the firm said.

The increasing emphasis on streaming video quality comes as more consumers are clearly watching more video on more devices. In a corresponding survey of streaming households, Conviva found that the number of concurrent streaming devices in use increased by 28% from 2012 to 2013. This finding corroborates recent research from other organizations. (See Nielsen: Multiscreen Viewing Taking Off.)

Further, Conviva's data shows that different video playback devices are preferred by consumers at different times of the day. In the 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. period, mobile devices emerge as the favorite, accounting for 6.9% of all video streamed daily. PCs take over in the afternoon slot from noon to 4 p.m., accounting for 16.3% of all daily video streams. Then, as might be expected, the TV rules in the evening window from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., accounting for 36.6% of all streaming video.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Alan Breznick

Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

Alan Breznick is a business editor and research analyst who has tracked the cable, broadband and video markets like an over-bred bloodhound for more than 20 years.

As a senior analyst at Light Reading's research arm, Heavy Reading, for six years, Alan authored numerous reports, columns, white papers and case studies, moderated dozens of webinars, and organized and hosted more than 15 -- count 'em --regional conferences on cable, broadband and IPTV technology topics. And all this while maintaining a summer job as an ostrich wrangler.

Before that, he was the founding editor of Light Reading Cable, transforming a monthly newsletter into a daily website. Prior to joining Light Reading, Alan was a broadband analyst for Kinetic Strategies and a contributing analyst for One Touch Intelligence.

He is based in the Toronto area, though is New York born and bred. Just ask, and he will take you on a power-walking tour of Manhattan, pointing out the tourist hotspots and the places that make up his personal timeline: The bench where he smoked his first pipe; the alley where he won his first fist fight. That kind of thing.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like