Buffering online video: Three strikes and you’re out

Call it the “three-strike rule.” A new survey from CDN Limelight found that 78% of OTT viewers will tolerate two buffering occurrences, but will abandon the video after three.

Buffering remains the No. 1 frustration for viewers, especially as high-speed broadband becomes more common.

Limelight also found, in its survey of consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom, that online video viewership is continuing to grow. While half of respondents to its survey said they have a pay-TV subscription, 60% subscribe to at least one SVOD service (26% subscribe to two or more), a number that is growing as pay-TV prices rise and consumers are given more online alternatives, especially live sports and other live events.

Overall, more than three-quarters of consumers watch video online each week, more than half of them watching at least two hours per week.

It’s not surprising that Millennials far exceed that average.

As to what’s being watched, younger viewers primarily watch television shows and movies, while older viewers prefer original content and news.

A recent Hub Research survey found that 53% of U.S. viewers say they prefer watching free, ad-supported content, but Limelight found that viewers find online advertising in video content disruptive. Still, they’re more accepting when it allows them to watch content for free or when they have the option of skipping the advertising.

“If consumers can get the same quality experience and content online at their convenience, they’re highly likely to cut the cord,” said Dan Carney, Limelight’s senior vice president of operations. “And while price is a consideration, OTT providers should note that viewers understand the need for advertising if they want to keep costs down, with 60 percent accepting it if it prevents them from having to pay for content.”

The bottom line: Consumers expect a high-quality online video viewing experience, regardless of the device they use to access content.

The survey polled 1,779 U.S. and U.K. consumers who watch online videos weekly.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn