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Low-Quality Streaming Reduces OTT Viewer Loyalty, Finds Akamai

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While low-resolution streaming and playback issues are obviously a nuisance for over-the-top (OTT) service subscribers, how much do they impact the bottom line? To find out, content delivery network Akamai worked with research firm Sensum to test the reactions of 1,200 subjects using biometric methods such as facial coding and skin conductance.

That testing quantified just how much streaming issues cause viewers to disengage from storylines and lose interest. Poor streaming made negative emotions rise by 16 percent, while engagement dropped by 20 percent. If streaming issues continued, 76 percent of those sampled said they would stop using the service.

How people react to poor experiences depends on what type of service they're using. Buffering leads to a big loss of engagement for subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) customers. Comparatively, transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) services see the greatest loss to customer loyalty.

When viewers experience buffering, their happiness drops by 14 percent, negative emotions rise by 8 percent, and focus drops by 8 percent.

"One of the reasons we did this study is because what viewers say and what they do are often very different," explains Shane Keats, a media research analyst for Akamai. "This study sought to find our unconscious reactions to higher and lower video quality. And one of the most fascinating things we found is that higher resolution video—even when that resolution is imperceptible to the viewer—generates 10.4 percent more emotional engagement for that viewer."

To improve their customer satifactin, programmers should look to their bitrate ladders and step everything up by one rung, Keats advises.

For more results, download the white paper "The Science Behind How Our Bodies React to Video Quality" for free (registration required).

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