How Tolerant Are Online Video Viewers of Buffering, and Ads?

More than three-quarters of adults in the US and UK watch online video at least weekly, according to the results [pdf] of a survey from Limelight Networks, with men and Millennials tending to be among the heavier consumers of digital video content.

A new MarketingCharts study based on high-quality surveys from Simmons Research similarly indicates that almost two-thirds of US adults now watch downloaded or streaming video on a weekly basis, with viewing figures particularly high among Millennials, Hispanics, and affluents.

TV shows are the most frequently watched type of online video, per the Limelight Networks study, topping original content/YouTube and movies. TV shows online prove especially popular with Millennials. Indeed, MarketingCharts’ study found that the online TV program audience skews more towards youth than all other online media tracked.

Interestingly, younger viewers appear slightly more tolerant of advertising in online video than other adults. In the Limelight Networks survey, two-thirds of Millennial viewers (compared to 6 in 10 adults overall) agreed that they’re okay with advertising in online video if it prevents them from having to pay for content. Millennials were also more likely to agree that advertising is okay as long as they’re interested in it, while being less likely to feel that advertising is disruptive. (See this article for data-backed insights to optimizing digital video ad effectiveness.)

Advertising might be bothersome to viewers, but quality issues are also frustrating. In fact, buffering is the most frustrating aspect of watching video online, per respondents, more so than poor quality video, unavailability of video on a desired device, and having to wait for a video to start playing.

As for buffering, almost half (46%) of respondents said they’ll abandon a video if it buffers twice, with almost 8 in 10 abandoning it after the third time buffering. Relatively few (8%), by contrast, will stop watching the first time a video pauses and buffers.

About the Data: The Limelight Networks survey was fielded by a third-party company with access to both U.S. and U.K. consumer panels. A total of 1,779 respondents reported watching online video weekly. The report focused on their responses. Based on the sample size, the survey has a margin of error of approximately 3.1 percent.