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Most online video service providers believe that their quality and reliability will soon match or exceed traditional TV. And recent trends suggest they’re headed in the right direction. A new report from Conviva [download page] – which measures some of the largest virtual MVPDs and subscription video-on-demand providers – reveals that quality of experience KPIs are improving.

Examining its customer base during Q2 2018 and comparing quality metrics to the year-earlier period, Conviva found improvements in all quality metrics.

Specifically, video start failures – the percentage of attempts terminated during video startup before the first video frame was played – dropped 16% from 3.21% to 2.69%. North America led the way in this regard, with a 44% improvement to a failure rate of just 1.4%. By comparison, Asia actually saw an increase in video start failures, up 18% to 5.8%, a 4-times higher rate than experienced in North America.

Meanwhile, video start times also improved on a global basis. It took 14% fewer seconds on average in Q2 2018 (4.16 seconds) than in Q2 2017 (4.84 seconds) from when a viewer clicked play to when the first frame appeared. On this metric Asia was actually the leader, with a 34% improvement to a video start time of just 2.96 seconds. By comparison, start times in North America averaged 4.42 seconds, slightly besting Europe (4.44) due to a greater improvement (12%) in start times.

These are encouraging signs, but what about the most important quality metric? Video streaming users have reported that stalling and rebuffering video is a far more frustrating (and persistent) issue than slow-loading video.

The good news is that not only did the rebuffering ratio improve, but that it also experienced the biggest improvement of all the quality metrics analyzed (along with bit rate). During the second quarter video streams interrupted and froze just 0.78% of the time compared to videos playing error-free. That represented a 24% improvement from a 1.02% rebuffering ratio during the year-earlier period.

The rebuffering ratio was best in North America, with a 38% improvement to just 0.59%, narrowly ahead of Europe (0.6%). Asia, by contrast, experienced a 39% worsening of the rebuffering ratio to 1.84%.

Meanwhile, in other results from Conviva’s report:

  • Streaming video plays doubled on a year-over-year basis, as did viewing hours, indicating strong consumer demand (in part driven by the World Cup); and
  • Video views continued to migrate away from PCs and towards mobile devices and connected TVs, as seen in other similar reports.

About the Data: Globally, on an annualized basis, the Conviva sensor is installed in 3 billion streaming video applications for over 200 brands. The data in the report is a fully anonymized census measuring every second of every stream from Conviva’s customer base between April 1 and June 30, 2018 (or, Q2 2018), and comparing it to the data from the same time period last year, Q2 2017. The content Conviva measures includes movies, episodic TV shows, live linear television, and live sports.

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