Bitmovin research highlights costs of buffering and risk of ad-funded tiers

New research from video solutions provider Bitmovin suggests quality of content is not the only thing that stops consumers churning out of services. Based on a survey of 1000 UK respondents, Bitmovin found that more than one in three (38%) had unsubscribed from a streaming service due to buffering. The research also found that nearly a quarter of Brits (23%) would drop a service with poor video quality.

Stefan Lederer

At a time when more and more platforms are vying for consumer attention, the streaming infrastructure provider found that poor video quality and buffering issues could cost video streamers as much as £45 million per month. The quality of experience issue is likely to be even more significant amid the cost of living crisis.

Bitmovin CEO and founder Stefan Lederer said: “We are in an era of technology-driven experiences, so streamers need to go above and beyond just offering entertaining content. The consumer, especially when paying for these services, also wants a seamless and enjoyable experience. Streamers need to realise that it’s not just great content that will help them win out but also top-notch delivery of content.”

It takes 13.4 seconds of buffering on average before consumers consider unsubscribing from a platform. However, not all content is created equal when it comes to buffering: respondents are more tolerant of buffering when it comes to eLearning content, only considering unsubscribing after 15.5 seconds of buffering. Free streaming platforms like YouTube came second with 14.3 seconds, and consumers considered unsubscribing from paid-for services after 13.3 seconds. Male respondents were also found to be more impatient than female respondents.

With Netflix now offering an ad-supported, lower-cost subscription model, and Disney+ launching its ad supported tier on the 8th December, the research had some additional insights into consumer sentiment around ad-supported video streaming subscriptions. Interestingly, when it comes to paid subscription, the majority (58%, rising to 67% among 18-35s) are happy to pay extra for an ad-free experience.

Most viewers (60%) are happy to tolerate ads on free streaming services. However, if paying for a subscription, no matter the cost, they would like ad-free content. It will be interesting to see how this finding pans out when Netflix and Disney launch lower-cost hybrid tiers. Netflix is pitching its Netflix Basic With Ads at $6.99 per month.

The research also found 19% of Brits valued the ability to use a streaming service across all devices as one of the top three reasons to keep a subscription. Mobile phones are the second most popular choice for viewing streamed content (26%), behind Connected TVs (48%) – and higher than tablets (10%) and laptops (8%).

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