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Limelight Networks has published its semi-annual State of Online Video report. The report, the fourth of its kind, takes a look at UK and US consumer attitudes and preferences in streaming video.
Key highlights include:
■ More than three-quarters of respondents reported watching online video weekly
■ Television shows are the most popular type of online video content
■ Video buffering remains the primary frustration with watching online video
■ Nearly 60 per cent of people who watch online video subscribe to one or more services
■ Consumers in the US who watch online video are much more likely to subscribe to a cable or pay-TV service than consumers in the UK
■ Cost remains the primary reason for cutting the cord
■ Unavailability of sports and other live events online discourages Millennial males from cutting the cord
■ Smartphones are increasingly used to view online video
■ Consumers utilise many different streaming devices to watch online video on their televisions
■ Consumers are willing to accept online advertising if it allows them to not pay for content
■ Facebook is the dominant site for consumers to share their video content
Online video viewership continues to grow, as does the number of connected devices for consuming content. More than three-quarters of consumers watch video online each week. More than half of the people who watch online video watch at least two hours per week, with Millennials far exceeding that average. Viewing habits are shifting, as there is an increasing use of a multitude of devices to watch online video both inside and outside the home, ranging from computers and tablets to smartphones and streaming devices such as Roku and Apple TV.
Consumers watch many different types of online content. Younger viewers primarily watch television shows and movies, while older viewers prefer original content from sources such as YouTube as well as news. Viewers find online advertising in video content disruptive. However, they are much more accepting when they have the option to skip the advertising or when it prevents them from having to pay for content.
Half of online video viewers subscribe to a cable or pay-TV service. However, there is an increasing use of subscription VoD services, with 60 per cent subscribing to one or more services. The increasing price of cable and pay-TV services is the primary reason consumers would consider cutting the cord, but availability of sports and other live events online is becoming increasingly important in that decision.
Consumers expect a high-quality online video viewing experience, regardless of the device they use to access content. Video buffering remains the top frustration with online video viewing, with almost half of online viewers abandoning a video if it stops playing to re-buffer more than twice.
To provide consumers with an optimised online video viewing experience, content distributors must consider the following guidelines.
Make Content Available on Any Device
Viewers use multiple device types to access video content throughout the day. While a computer or laptop remains the primary device most viewers use to watch video online, smart televisions, streaming devices, smartphones, and tablets are increasingly being utilised. Content distributors need an infrastructure that is designed to easily create and distribute content in multiple formats and bit rates in order to reach and maintain the widest possible audience. This is particularly important when streaming sports and other live events, as this type of content is becoming even more important to younger viewers who expect the same quality of viewing experience on their mobile devices as they do over their home broadband network. Utilising a content delivery network (CDN) that is designed to easily and reliably transcode and transmux video content for global delivery for on demand workflows as well as live streaming to many different devices and operating systems over varying network speeds can help ensure viewers will remain engaged.
Integrate Advertising into Programme Content
Consumers find advertising to be very disruptive to the online video viewing experience. However, they are more accepting of video advertising when they are presented with the option to skip it or when they know the advertising is making it possible to view the content without having to pay. Advertising should be integrated into the body of the content whenever possible, rather than just running as a pre-roll before the content. Just as most commercial linear broadcasters place the first advertising break after the initial programme segment in order to get viewers interested in the programme before cutting away to commercial, online advertising should be integrated as an interstitial or placed after an initial programme segment. When advertising precedes the beginning of the program, viewers should have the opportunity to skip the advertisement after a brief period of time so they can access the content.
Make Content Easy to Find
Enabling consumers to easily discover video content is critical. Have metadata available for recommendation engines to use to personalise user searches, presenting new content for consumption so they don’t have to find it on their own. Frequently add new video to your site to keep viewers coming back for more, improving the brand.