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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 06, 2013

Video Streaming Infrastructure Gets Better, Quality of Experience a Bigger Issue

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

According to a new analysis by The Diffusion Group , 56 percent of all U.S. broadband households have at least one TV connected to the Internet, either directly using a smart TV or indirectly using an ancillary device like a game console or Blu-ray player.

Among U.S. broadband households, smart TV penetration doubled from 12 percent to 25 percent, and 69 percent of those smart TVs are now connected to the Internet.

Close to 25 percent of net-connected game console time is spent viewing video, TDG estimates.

That is one more necessary building block for the eventual streaming delivery opportunity. Now the issue is quality of experience. Streaming services will have a hard time fully displacing linear TV services, even if streaming services have access to the same content, without more assured quality of experience.

And though “more bandwidth” fixes most problems, it doesn’t fix all problems, where it comes to isochronous services that are highly dependent on bandwidth consistency, such as video and voice.

A recent study by Conviva suggests that fully 60 percent of all entertainment video streams experience quality degradation.

Viewer interruption from re-buffering affected 21 percent of streams, 20 percent had slow video startup and 40 percent were plagued by grainy or low-resolution picture quality caused by low bitrates.

And it appears user irritation levels are growing. In 2011, a one-percent increase in buffering resulted in three minutes less of viewing time per view of long-form content. In 2012, that identical one percent increase led to eight minutes lost in viewing time per view for similar content.

Also, if video start time exceeds two seconds, the number of people that abandon viewing dramatically increases to 400 percent for long-form VOD and 140 percent for live content, Conviva says.

Buffering is a deterrent as well. Viewers with a buffer-free experience watch 226 percent more and are four times more likely to stay and watch if video starts in two seconds or less.

When trying to watch a live video stream, viewers not required to use a buffered app watch 10 times longer.

So the underlying technology base for widespread Internet video business models keeps getting better, but quality of experience remains an issue.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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