If you’ve ever waited for an ad to play while watching something online, only to have the ad never end up playing, you’re not alone. According to Conviva’s latest quarterly State of Streaming report, 39.6% of all streaming video ads completely failed to play in Q3 ’19. The vast majority, 35.7%, were ad start failures, with exits before the ad started comprising the remaining 3.9%. In addition, the average ad start time was 1.14 seconds and the ad buffering ratio was .77%.
Ad failures and delays disrupt the user experience and cause abandonment, both harmful to ad-supported video businesses. As Conviva points out, ad-supported video is already an important business model, and will further grow as viewers cap the number of ad-free streaming services they subscribe to.
Streaming video hours were up 130% in Q2 ’19 vs. Q2 ’18 according to Conviva’s new State of the Streaming TV Industry report. Connected TVs led with 143% growth, followed by mobile (up 109%) and PC (up 75%). CTVs also led with 28.8 minutes of watch time per play, followed by PC with 15.1 minutes and mobile with 12 minutes.
Overall, CTVs accounted for 54% of all viewing hours in Q2 ’19, followed by mobile (23%), PC (14%) and others (8%). Roku continues to dominate the CTV category, with 43% of time viewing. Fire TV was a distant second at 18%, followed by Apple TV at 10% and Xbox at 9%. Roku also had the highest year-over-year growth rate in viewing hours, at 173%, with Fire TV next at 145%, and then Apple TV at 129%.
I'm pleased to present the 299th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week there was a lot of industry data released that Colin and I covered. To streamline things, on this week’s podcast we highlight and discuss our 5-6 top takeaways. These include rising TV Everywhere usage, the shift in viewing from tablets to smartphones, how SVOD appears to be complementing pay-TV, why younger viewers are more tolerant of lower video quality, and how technology is defeating bots in online video advertising.
Here are links to some of our coverage of this data:
FreeWheel’s Q3 Video Monetization Report Shows Continued Industry Growth
Conviva Survey Shows High Abandonment Rates for Lower Quality Video Experiences
Survey: OTT Usage is Up, But Pay-TV is Still Hugely Popular, Even Among Millennials
Videology - White Ops Study Details Cost of Bots on Video Advertising
12-fold Increase in Mobile Video Volume by 2021, Led by Smartphone
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Online video is not yet a gold-plated experience; we’ve all had the experience of clicking to watch a video only to have the picture quality stink or multiple interruptions/buffering occur. To help understand the consequences of lower quality video, Conviva has released results of a 500-user survey which shows how viewers react to these problems.
When a viewer encounters poor picture quality, 17% give up immediately, with 59% waiting a short while, and 24% waiting as long as it takes. For excessive stream interruptions/buffering, 25% give up immediately, with 59% waiting a short while, and 17% waiting as long as it takes. Almost half of respondents (48%) said they remember poor experiences, and of these, 92% said they gravitate back to video services where they had positive experiences.
Late last week Conviva launched a new, free data portal which provides a range of video experience metrics. Data for the last 4 quarters are available and are sorted by 4 tabs: General, Content, Region and Device. Each tab provides 5-6 graphics with key metrics. The data is drawn from a large sample as Conviva is monitoring 4 billion streams per month across 180 countries, with 2 billion devices reporting per month.
The range and quality of online original programs is unquestionably improving as investments by OTT services soar. What gets far less attention - but is equally important - is that the viewers’ actual experience watching these new programs must be high quality and free of buffering/other annoyances. The best content in the world will not make up for lousy delivery. Increasingly, a TV-quality level of experience is where viewers set their expectations.
Fortunately there was some good news this week on the quality of experience front, with Conviva reporting mid-year 2015 quality metrics gleaned from analyzing billions of video streams worldwide. Some of the key data points, according to Conviva’s mid-2015 Viewer Experience Report, were:
With binge-viewing becoming a mainstream activity, there’s more and more energy being devoted to understanding the behavior and how to profit from it. The latest comes from video optimizer Conviva, which has published a white paper, “Binge Watching: The New Currency of Video Economics,” detailing findings from a survey of 750 binge-viewers between the ages of 25-36.
I'm pleased to present the 267th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week, Colin shares highlights from a new study from Conviva showing how important video quality is, and how low viewers' tolerance for subpar experiences have become. Conviva's survey of 750 millennials found that just 25% will continue watching an inferior stream for 4 minutes or longer, and just 16% will even bother trying on a second device if their experience on the first device they tried was sub-par. Colin observes the stakes are getting ever-higher for content providers as more viewing goes multi-screen.
We then shift to discussing mobile live-streaming, which I wrote about yesterday. I'm excited about both Meerkat and Periscope, and we discuss 3 different high-potential use cases for mobile live-streaming. It's going to be a lot of fun to see what both amateur broadcasters as well as content providers/brands do with Meerkat and Periscope.
Listen in to learn more!
EchoStar, which is DISH Network's main technology partner, has selected Conviva to guarantee video quality of DISH Network's 2 main TV Everywhere services, DISH Anywhere and DishWorld. The former provides live and on-demand access to DISH's programming while the latter is focused on international programming delivered online.
EchoStar will use Conviva's Intelligent Control Platform to optimize streaming video quality in real-time, on a per user basis. Conviva's platform monitors stream quality at an the individual user level, anticipating problems and preemptively optimizing by adjusting the bitrate, content delivery network and other parameters. An analytics suite gives content providers insight into the performance and viewership of their video.
Conviva has released its 2014 Viewer Experience Report, finding that of the 45 billion video views in 2013 that it analyzed, 26.9% were impacted by buffering, an improvement from 39.3% in 2012, while those impacted by low resolution delivery also improved, to 43.3% from 63% in 2012. Offsetting these was a rise in video start failures from 4% in 2012 to 4.8% in 2013.
As consumers shift their viewing to online from traditional TV, they bring along expectations of the seamless experience, so the Conviva data is critical to understand how well these expectations are being met. In fact, Conviva found that online viewers expectations are actually rising as they shift to online.
Video stream optimizer Conviva reported today that its Intelligent Control Platform processed over 45 billion streams in 2013, a 4x increase in the last two years. The streams were viewed across more than 1.6 billion devices, including PCs, tablets, smartphones and connected TVs, in 180 countries and through more than 400 premium media video players.
Conviva's platform monitors and optimizes the delivery of premium online video by content and service providers. The company said that in 2013 it made over 4 million preemptive, automated corrective actions per day for individual users, devices and routes which improved video experiences. Conviva's software analyzes and measures what viewers are watching, at every second checking for quality issues such as buffering, long start times, video artifacts, and stuttering.
Conviva, whose software preemptively optimizes video streams on multiple platforms, has renewed and expanded its existing deal with HBO for another 6 years. Conviva's original deal with HBO dates to May, 2011. Conviva has been supporting HBO's HBO GO TV Everywhere domestic distribution, and under the new deal it will be extended to support international distribution as well. HBO's parent, Time Warner, is also an investor in Conviva.
Undoubtedly we've all had the experience at one time or another of watching (or trying to watch) a particular online video, only to have some problem arise that interrupts our experience. To the average user, it's a mystery what might have happened. Is it a problem with my computer? With my personal Internet connection? With my Internet service provider? With the source of the content?
Regardless, it causes user frustration, which can lead to clicking away from the video, possibly never to return. More often than not, the content provider isn't even aware of these user problems. As online video becomes more central to content providers' strategies and P&Ls, inferior user experiences are a growing concern for content providers. And given the vagaries of the Internet and the exploding volume of video being consumed, it's an issue unlikely to go away anytime soon.
That's where Conviva comes in. Conviva gives content providers unprecedented insight into their users' viewing behaviors as well as tools to quickly identify and resolve problems. As Darren Feher, Conviva's new CEO explained to me when I met up with him recently, and in a subsequent demo, the company's studies show that at least 25% of all streams suffer one problem or another. Affected users watch between 30-80% less video than those who don't have problems.
Here's how Conviva works: a small bit of its code is integrated by the content provider alongside the Flash or Silverlight player, whichever is used (in either case no user download involved). Conviva is also integrating with online video platforms (so far just thePlatform, but others to come), so the step is eliminated for the content provider. When deployed, Conviva's code monitors the user's video experience and sends back "heartbeat" reports every 10 seconds to the Conviva console. The console gives the content provider multiple views of their users' experiences, including things like a geographic distribution of current viewing, what player's being used, the average time it's taking to start streaming, the average duration of viewing, the amount of buffering, and so on. Conviva shares the science behind all of this if you're so inclined.
Conviva's secret sauce is mashing up all that in-bound data in real-time and detecting if/where problems exist, and when they do, what the source is. Problems could include buffering on the user's machine, issues with the currently-used CDN, congestion in the local ISP, etc. In addition to these telemetry/analytics services, the company also offers a service it calls "Conviva Distribution" which will seek to remedy problems as they arise based on a set of pre-configured policies. For example, if the user's machine is buffering, Conviva will adjust the stream being sent to a lower bit rate. Or if the CDN being used is the problem, Conviva will switch to another CDN (of the content provider's choosing) in mid-stream, unbeknownst to the user. The content provider gets real-time visibility into what troubleshooting is happening.
In addition to improving the user experience, Darren believes this degree of insight opens up new opportunities for content providers. For example, say there's a higher value set of streams, maybe for a subscription service or a live event. Those streams can be tagged and monitored separately, and have greater resources allocated to them to ensure up-time. Improved visibility into videos that are going viral means their placement on the site and their monetization can be enhanced. Another example is better-informed customer service agents responding to issues specific to a certain set of videos.
Some of what Conviva does is similar to analytics products like Omniture, performance measurement from companies like Keynote and Gomez and some of the reporting CDNs themselves provide to customers. But Conviva seems to bring together user viewing data in a unique and far deeper way than any of these. This week Conviva is helping NBC better understand its Olympics streaming using Silverlight. Conviva also counts Fox, ABC, NFL and others as customers. Conviva started life as Rinera Networks, pursing managed P2P distribution. It has raised $29 million to date from UV Partners, New Enterprise Associates and Foundation Capital.
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This week I'll be at Digital Hollywood Fall in LA, the first big industry gathering I've attended since the economic crisis hit. I've been trying to keep my finger on the pulse of what the crisis means for the broadband video industry. Get-togethers like this, with lots of time for informal, off-the-record chats are great for getting a sense of what colleagues think is on the industry's horizon.
Here are 3 interrelated areas I'm most interested in learning about:
With the credit markets frozen and stock markets tumbling, the availability of financing is topic number one. This is especially relevant for the industry's many earlier stage companies, reliant on private financing from venture capitalists, angels and other private equity investors.
By my count we've seen at least 9 good-sized financings announced since around Labor Day, when the financial markets started coming unglued: Howcast ($2M), blip.tv (undisclosed), Booyah ($4.5M), BlackArrow ($20M), HealthiNation ($7.5M), Adap.tv ($13M), BitTorrent ($17M), Conviva ($20M), and Move Networks (Microsoft, undisclosed). The rumor mill tells me there are at least 2-3 additional financings underway currently. Really smart money (e.g. Warren Buffet) knows that downturns are exactly the time to invest. However, the reality can often be quite different. What's the experience of industry participants trying to raise money these days?
In any downturn, the first expense to get cut is people. Headcount reductions are often done quietly, with word later leaking out to the public. Last week brought news of trimming at three indie video providers, Break (11 people), ManiaTV (20) and Heavy (12). More are sure to follow at other companies. As I've written before, the indies are among the most vulnerable in this environment, likely leading many to find bigger partners for both distribution and monetization. But whether layoffs will hit other industry sectors such as platforms, ad networks, CDNs, mobile video and big media is still to be determined by...
Central to the question of how deeply the financial crisis spirals is the interdependence of customer spending at all levels of the economy. Thinking you're safe because you're a B2B company is meaningless if your customers are B2C companies cutting back due to reductions in consumer spending. When consumers tighten their belts that leads to advertisers reducing their spending which leads to media companies scaling back which leads to technology vendors feeling the impact. The reality is we're all in this together.
In fact, the more I read about the economy's fragile condition, the clearer it is that the primary way out is rebuilding confidence and renewed spending at all levels. If a spending paralysis occurs, it could be long road ahead. While there's no reason to believe that consumers are going to slow their consumption of broadband media, the ability to monetize it and innovate around it would be dampened if spending hits a wall.
These are among the topics I'll be looking to discuss at Digital Hollywood this week. If you're attending, drop me a note so we can try to meet up and/or come by the session I'll be moderating on Wednesday at 12:30pm.
What do you think? Post a comment now!