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Rebuffering Frustration: 29% Will Stop Watching After One Problem

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As streaming becomes more commonplace, viewer expectations rise. Content delivery network Limelight released its 2018 State of Online Video report today, and it finds rebuffering is the chief annoyance for many. Globally, 43.4 percent call it their top frustration, beating out poor quality video (32.1 percent) and long startup times (13.3 percent). Rebuffering is even more loathed in the U.S., where 49.4 percent cite it as their biggest annoyance.

Viewers are so put off by video buffering that they'll leave immediately and pick something else to watch if it happens. Limelight finds 28.7 percent tune out after a single buffering incident, while an additional 36.8 percent will leave if it happens twice.

This annoyance grows year after year. In 2016, only 7.9 percent would stop watching after a rebuffering problem.

France holds the lead for being the most annoyed by rebuffering, as 49.0 percent will tune out after the first problem, and an additional 33.2 percent after the second.

The report sees older viewers as less patient with rebuffering. For viewers over 60, one rebuffer is enough to stop watching. For people age 18 to 25, only 18.8 percent leave after the first incident.

"As online viewing continues to expand and becomes the primary way more consumers watch television, expectations for broadcast-quality online experiences continue to grow," explains Mike Milligan, senior director for product and solution marketing at Limelight. "Viewers are no longer willing to accept poor quality delivery. Just as most broadcast television viewers will quickly switch the channel if the screen goes blank for more than a few seconds, online viewers will also abandon content that rebuffers, and watch something else rather than suffering through a poor online viewing experience."

Limelight's data comes from an August survey of 5,000 people in 10 countries. View the full report for free (no registration required).

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