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As online video services proliferate, a key consideration is their quality and the resulting user experience. As it stands, most service providers believe they’ll soon achieve the same or better quality as traditional pay-TV, according to an Akamai study produced by nScreenMedia in partnership with TV Technology and Broadcasting & Cable.

The survey was fielded among more than 300 company managers at US and UK companies with responsibility for the technical implementation of video streaming services. These respondents offer a mix of video services, ranging from live streaming to linear and live and video-on-demand. The figures in this article are based on responses from the 257 managers working at US companies.

Fully 94% of these online video service providers believe that online delivery will at some point match or exceed that of traditional TV. What’s more, there seems to be a high degree of confidence that this milestone will occur in the near future.

Indeed, a majority of respondents believe that online delivery has already met or surpassed traditional TV (35%) or will do so in the next 6 months (20%). All told, 7 in 10 believe online delivery will have met or exceeded TV quality and reliability within a year.

Start Time Rated Most Important Quality Parameter

There seems to have been a shift in attitudes from a similar report last year when it comes to the most important aspects of video quality.

In this latest study the largest share of respondents rated start-up time as the most important parameter, with roughly three-quarters (76%) giving it a top-3 box score on a 10-point scale of importance. Last year, start-up time, which refers to the time between a viewer hitting “play” and the video actually starting, was 4th on the list of important quality parameters.

Issues with rebuffering are also important, though not quite as much as start-up time, according to respondents to the most recent survey. Seven in 10 feel that the rebuffering rate is important, and an equal share point to the number of rebuffers per play as being an important quality issue. (The rebuffering rate refers to the percentage of streams affected by a rebuffering event, while the number of rebuffers per play refers to the number of times on average that a video play was interrupted by a rebuffering event.)

What’s interesting to note is that in a survey of online video viewers released last year, rebuffering was seen by viewers to be both a more frustrating and more common video quality problem than slow start-up times.

That survey also found that 1 in 5 viewers will give up watching a video after only a single rebuffering event. Almost three-quarters felt that the rebuffering rate could be improved, and 6 in 10 were of the opinion that video load times could be better.

About the Data: The Akamai report describes its methodology in part as follows:

“To better understand how corporations with media assets are planning to deliver them to end consumers, nScreenMedia partnered with TV Technology and Broadcasting & Cable, two NewBay Media brands, to field a survey to over 300 company managers with responsibility for the technical implementation of video streaming services. Though all of the respondents are based in the US, 257 work for US companies and 93 are employed by UK companies.. The respondents were drawn from the following groups:

  • Broadcast television stations, station groups, or networks (e.g., NBCU, KPBS, Sinclair, BBC)
  • Pay television operations/MSOs/MVPDs (e.g., Dish Network, Charter, SureWest, Virgin Media)
  • Programmers: syndicators, studios, other license holders (e.g., Syfy Network, Endermol, MGM)
  • TV services: producers, distributors, talent, television rep firms or other providers (e.g., Adrenaline Films, BBC Worldwide, Katz Television Group)
  • New media: digital, Internet, or interactive companies (e.g., Netflix, Sling TV, AwesomenessTV)
  • Other companies with video assets to be delivered to consumers (e.g., American Express, Procter & Gamble).

Survey respondents were all based in the United States and drawn from the following disciplines:

  • Corporate management
  • Engineering/IT management
  • Programming management.”

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