Akamai Diversity

The Akamai Blog

New Video Quality Study Examines Causes of Viewer Behavior

Online video viewers are willing to wait two seconds for a file to load before they start abandoning the content for something else. This is according to a new study of online video stream quality that analyzed an unprecedented 23 million views from 6.7 million unique viewers across the Akamai network.

The study, "Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior: Inferring Causality using Quasi-Experimental Designs," takes a scientific look at how changes in video quality can cause online video viewers to change their behavior, going beyond just identifying correlating factors that may or may not be directly related to differences in behaviors. Jointly conducted by Ramesh Sitaraman, an Akamai fellow and professor of computer science at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, and S. Shunmuga Krishan, a senior system software engineer at Akamai, this is the first study to show a causal relationship between video quality and viewer behavior.

In the following video, Ramesh sheds light on the unique background on the unique nature of the study along with some of its salient points.

In addition to the aforementioned abandonment rates based on load times, which increase by 5.8% for each additional second of delay, the study demonstrates a range of salient data that content owners and distributors can use to optimize the performance of online video initiatives. Other findings include:

  • Viewers are less tolerant of start-up delays in short videos such as news clips versus long videos such as TV episodes or movies.
  • Viewers with better Internet connections are less tolerant of start-up delays, with viewers using fiber connections being the quickest to abandon and those on mobile devices demonstrating the most patience.
  • Viewers experiencing more interruptions, i.e., rebuffering, played video for lesser time.
  • A viewer who experienced a failed visit is less likely to return to watch more videos than a similar viewer who didn't experience the failure.
As consumers increasingly expect the content they want to enjoy to be available on any device at any time, this type of information can become extremely valuable for media companies to better understand content performance and audience viewing and engagement habits.

Ramesh is formally presenting the study at the Internet Measurement Conference in Boston on Thursday, November 15th.

To download the complete study, click here.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations Manager at Akamai.