New Study: Quality of OTT Video Streaming Experiences Directly Tied to Viewer Loyalty, Service Provider Success

Akamai research measures viewers’ physical and emotional reactions to buffering and low-quality video; shows disengaged viewers in both free and subscription-based models

Cambridge, MA |

Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM), the world's largest and most trusted cloud delivery platform, today released new research demonstrating how quality of video resolution and playback affects viewers' engagement with and loyalty to over-the-top (OTT) video streaming services. Conveyed through advanced biometric measurement tools including facial coding and skin conductance, the findings underscore the importance of delivering consistent, high-quality video across any OTT business model.

According to the study conducted by third-party research firm Sensum, viewers disengage with emotive storylines and react negatively to low-quality streaming incidents like buffering regardless of the brand or interest in the content. The research shows negative emotions increase 16 percent while engagement decreases nearly 20 percent as a result of these poor experiences. The survey also demonstrates that 76 percent of participants say they would stop using a service if issues such as buffering occurred several times.

"This unique research shows there is no place for low-quality video in any streaming business model," said Ian Munford, director of product marketing, media solutions, at Akamai. "The premium online video market is extremely competitive; the battle for revenue share is intense and subscriber acquisition costs are increasing, making differentiators like quality of experience more important than ever. Service providers cannot take risks with streaming experiences that are compromised by low resolution or buffering. They must provide consistent, high-quality experiences to help retain subscribers and reduce acquisition costs."

The research also found:

  • Subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) brands lose the most engagement due to buffering while transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) models suffer the most negative impact to brand loyalty if delivering low-quality experiences.
  • High-resolution video content with emotive storylines improve viewer engagement by more than 10 percent
  • When buffering begins:
    • Happiness drops 14 percent
    • Negative emotions (disgust and sadness) increase by an average of 8 percent
    • Viewers' feeling of surprise increases 27 percent
    • Attention drops by 3 percent and focus decreases by 8 percent

The study, one of the most comprehensive of its nature ever conducted, used a variety of testing procedures including sensory, implicit and explicit responses from more than 1,200 participants. All tests carried out adhered to the Video Quality Experts Group (VQEG) standards to ensure results could not be contaminated. Akamai also created fictitious brands to remove any previous emotional association with the business models and used the same content across all the brands to nullify the impact of content type on the respondents.

To download the white paper, "The Science Behind How our Bodies React to Video Quality", please visit: https://www.akamai.com/sensum.

About Akamai

As the world’s largest and most trusted cloud delivery platform, Akamai makes it easier for its customers to provide the best and most secure digital experiences on any device, anytime, anywhere. Akamai’s massively distributed platform is unparalleled in scale with over 200,000 servers across 130 countries, giving customers superior performance and threat protection. Akamai’s portfolio of web and mobile performance, cloud security, enterprise access, and video delivery solutions are supported by exceptional customer service and 24/7 monitoring. To learn why the top financial institutions, e-commerce leaders, media & entertainment providers, and government organizations trust Akamai please visit www.akamai.com, blogs.akamai.com, or @Akamai on Twitter.