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Video Buffering Impacts Viewer Behavior


Time is of the Essence

In doing research on website videos I came across a study by the University of Massachusetts titled Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior: Inferring Causality Using Quasi-Experimental Designs. I’d like to share some of their observations and conclusions in relation to how viewers respond to slow buffering times. Their analysis shows “that viewers start to abandon a video if it takes more than 2 seconds to start up, with each incremental delay of 1 second resulting in a 5.8% increase in the abandonment rate. A viewer who experienced failure is 2.32% less likely to revisit the same site within a week than a similar viewer who did not experience a failure.”

The Causal Impact of Quality on Behavior

Simplified; If a video is able to play with minimal buffering, the viewer is happy, and will watch, and more likely be engaged in the video. The median play time while “video surfing” is around 35 seconds, but can increase to 22 minutes if the viewer is interested and engages in the viewing. This is effected by the buffer time. Viewer satisfaction can create repeat viewership, a quality desired because it can lead to the viewer buying the product or service.


The study clearly showed that “Content providers know that reducing the abandonment rate, increasing the play time of 
each video watched, and enhancing the rate at which viewers return to their site increase opportunities for advertising
 and upselling, leading to greater revenues.” What I am most concerned with is the quality of the website video itself. Yes, it must be streamed properly, but it also needs to be interesting, to communicate its message well, and to have a motivated call to action which leads to viewer to act in response to the video. This begins with a good concept, development, and writing.



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