• Buffering: Video Engagement's #1 Enemy

    If you're like me, then you've no doubt experienced the frustration of trying to watch an online video only to have it periodically pause and then re-start, sometimes repeatedly. The pausing triggers a decision of whether to hang in there and hope things improve, or just bail out and move on to the next activity. These "buffering" moments are the bane of the content provider's existence - suppressing viewership, reducing monetization and frustrating users. And the causes can vary, including possible issues with the CDN, broadband ISP, computer, player software, etc.

    Though the buffering problem is omnipresent, I haven't seen its consequences quantified as well as on a free new infographic from video optimization technology provider Conviva. By embedding its software in client-side video players, Conviva has a unique view into users' video experiences across numerous content customers including HBO GO, ESPN, Netflix, Fox, NBCU and others.

    When Conviva detects an issue with the user's video streaming experience, it intervenes appropriately, for example, switching CDNs, reducing the stream's bit-rate, diagnosing network-related problems and so forth. Conviva now optimizes more than 1 billion streams per month, which speaks to how widespread delivery issues are. The result is improved engagement - a higher-quality stream, better user experience and stronger monetization.

    Among the key data points in the infographic:

    - Viewers who experience a single video start-up failure return 54% less.

    - A 1% increase in buffering leads to an average decrease of 3 minutes in viewing time.

    - The average viewing time for a video that buffered was 12.2 minutes per stream; when it didn't buffer the average time was 25.4 minutes.

    - For live events, viewers experienced 7.5 buffering events, but when Conviva optimizes it drops to 1.9 events.

    (Conviva defines "buffering" as 5 seconds or 2% of total length of viewing session)

    As premium-quality video has moved online, users are getting unprecedented choice and convenience. But as the Conviva infographic demonstrates, the quality of the experience has a huge impact on how engaged viewers will be. Just as people wouldn't tolerate buffering when watching traditional TV, they won't for online video either. All content providers need to be mindful of this reality.

    (Note: Conviva is a VideoNuze sponsor)
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