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Start-Up Time Rated Most Important Factor for Streaming Services

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A video's start-up time—the gap between when the viewer hits Play and when their video starts—is seen as the most important factor in online video service provider (OVSP) success, according to a report created by content delivery network Akamai.

Akamai based its report on a survey of over 300 company managers responsible for implementing a streaming video service. All respondents were based in the U.S. and most work for U.S. companies.

In the survey, 76 percent rated start-up time as highly important. That's followed by rebuffers per play and rebuffering rate (both at 70 percent), live latency (66 percent), and bitrate (58 percent).

In 2017, the average video startup time was 4.84 seconds. However, the longest time Akamai found was 6.82 seconds. "A two-second increase in start-up time can result in as much as 50 percent of the audience giving up on playing the video altogether," the report notes.

While start-up times are all-important now, that wasn't always the case. When Akamai ran the same survey in 2017 start-up times came in as the fourth most important factor. At the time, rebuffering was considered the most important item.

"No matter how OVSPs think they’re doing against their KPIs today, they are optimistic for the future," the report notes. "Fifty-five percent believe the quality and reliability of their online service already meet or exceed the quality and reliability of traditional television or will do so within the next six months."

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