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CDN Survey Examines US/UK Business and Personal Viewing Habits

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What does it take to reach global scale for multiple device types? That’s the question answered by over 1,200 survey respondents in the recent survey on CDN services jointly sponsored Akamai and Streaming Media.

Produced by Streaming Media magazine and Unisphere Research, both of which are owned by Information Today, Inc., the survey asked respondents to detail their personal online media viewing habits, as well as the business and technical challenges their companies face delivering online media to multiple devices on a global scale.

“A full 87 percent of survey respondents self-identified themselves as working for a company that delivers online video,” says Tim Siglin, co-founder and principal analyst for Transitions, Inc. Siglin crafted the survey's questions with input from the sponsors, and provided principal analysis. The results are available for free download (registration required).

There’s never been a more critical inflection point for media delivery services, says Siglin, a contributing editor for Streaming Media magazine for over 15 years.

“The market is more fragmented, in terms of devices, than ever before, yet split almost evenly across five types of device categories,” says Siglin. “When you add in all the variations in those categories—and emerging categories of devices such as wearable computing—it’s easy to see what a challenge premium content owners face in delivering to multiple screens and device types.”

On the personal media consumption front, survey responses show that the combination of desktops and laptops still make up 46 percent of primary online media consumption. This finding is similar to another survey performed in mid-2014 by Unisphere, Streaming Media, and Piksel. Even though the overlap of survey respondents was less than three percent between the Akamai and Piksel surveys, the media consumption device usage was quite similar.

In this Akamai-sponsored survey on CDN services, the tablet category of devices barely ekes out third place, topping by one percentage point the oldest media consumption device on the list: television. The growth of over-the-top consumption, based on respondent answers, means that the smartphone comes in at the bottom of the list of primary media consumption devices.

The model in Europe, which accounted for approximately 12 percent of responses, is slightly different.

“For European respondents, desktop usage was lower (15 percent) and tablet usage quite a bit higher (23 percent) than the overall average,” writes Siglin in the report. “The combination of laptop and tablet devices make up half of primary media devices, while desktops and laptops combined make up only 42 percent of total media consumption.”

When it comes to categorizing the primary content delivered by the companies survey respondents work for, two primary types emerged: premium content and enterprise (training) content, followed by promotional and social media content.

“Social media accounted for 8 percent of content delivery from respondent’s companies, but almost three times that for personal consumption, at 23 percent," says Siglin. "This gap may present an opportunity for companies willing to focus on social media delivery.”

When it came to critical content delivery services, respondents ranked multi-screen and multi-device capabilities at the top of the list, followed by adaptive bitrate (ABR) technology and analytics.

“Often, bandwidth and hardware is limited on encode side,” wrote one survey respondent, “so choosing a carrier that can take a single stream and deliver all of the variations is helpful.”

Finally, one trend that bears additional research is the number of terabytes of content delivered each month. Survey respondents reported primarily working for companies that either deliver less than 1TB or more than 100TB of online content per month.

“There’s a wide gap in the 10 to 100TB per month delivery range,” says Siglin, adding that survey respondents may be more aware of their current month average delivery capacity when the companies are just starting out.

The report can be downloaded here as part of the Streaming Media Research section of this website.

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