Streaming platforms are ubiquitous these days, with nearly every prominent name in broadcasting and entertainment launching their own paid service over the last two years. This vast and growing ecosystem is great for the business of streaming video at large.
It also means consumers have choice. And certain undesirable aspects of a streaming experience are likely to alienate viewers, causing them to seek their content elsewhere. For instance, Deloitte reported this year that while seven minutes of ads per hour is “about right,” double that can lead to viewers walking away from a show.
We’re still knee-deep in the streaming wars, but when the landscape ultimately shakes out, there will be winners and losers. The winners will be the platforms that offer the best overall user experience.
What exactly comprises a good experience is somewhat subjective. But paying close attention to the following four aspects of a streaming video service will help ensure a good user experience and a more loyal viewing audience.
Quality of Stream
Not surprisingly, overall quality of streaming video is a major element to a good user experience. According to TechRadar, more than half of viewers said they would abandon a poor-quality stream in 90 seconds or less. That means to keep eyeballs faithfully glued to your service, video quality must be consistently high, and hiccups in the stream must be minimal to nonexistent.
Another aspect of streaming that frustrates many viewers is delays in live programming, or latency, which is particularly apparent in live sporting events. Streaming services typically broadcast video content on a 30-90 second delay. The lower a streaming service’s latency, the closer to real-time the audience views the action. In the closing seconds of a tight game, the outcome of a big play will usually be splashed all over social media before the audience sees the action unfold on their stream, which can ruin the entire experience. According to Amazon Web Services, getting streaming latency to five seconds or less is optimal for live-event viewing.
Ease of Finding Relevant Content
Another issue raised by streaming video consumers in a recent consumer preferences report by PwC is how well a platform surfaces content they want to watch. One consumer quoted in the report cited the relative ease of simply turning on the TV and relaxing, versus searching to land on the program, movie, or event you want to watch. Consumers these days are much quicker to abandon your service in search of something better if they’re not served relevant programming choices. According to PwC, consumers still prefer recommendations from human beings instead of AI or algorithms. Only 21% say they think streaming services know what they want to watch better than they do.
Advertising has been a perennial complaint for viewers since the early days of television, and the same holds true in the streaming age. Many services are plagued by disruptive, irrelevant and even repetitive ads. As one ad buyer said in the WSJ: “You get the same ad over and over - it’s worse than ever.” The non-targeted nature of ads in most streaming platforms makes viewers feel like a service is blasting out ads at random instead of taking their personal preferences into account. According to a recent report by Conviva, there’s a disconnect between ad sellers and viewers on the perceived quality of ads on streaming services, with 69% of sellers believing ad quality on streaming is as good as on broadcast television, and just 35% of consumers agreeing.
The rise of streaming has enabled consumers to tailor their viewing like never before, but they’ve also come to expect certain things from the services they pay for. By failing to meet those demands, content providers risk losing their audience to a platform that gives them exactly what they want.