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Users Abandon Ship If Online Video Quality Is Not Up To Snuff, Says Study 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the make-a-resolution-for-higher-resolution dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The first large scientific study of how people respond to poor video quality on the Internet paints a picture of ever rising user expectations and the willingness to abandon ship if those expectations are not met (PDF). Some nuggets: 1) Some users are willing to wait for no more than 2 seconds for a video to start playing, with each additional second adding 6% to the abandonment rate. 2) Users with good broadband connectivity expect faster video load times and are even more impatient than ones on mobile devices. 3) Users who experience video freezing watch fewer minutes of the video than someone who does not experience freezing. If a video freezes for 1% of its total play time, 5% less of its total play time is watched, on average. 4) Users who experience failures when they try to play videos are less likely to return to the same website in the future. Big data was analyzed (260+ million minutes of video) and some cool new data analysis techniques used."
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Users Abandon Ship If Online Video Quality Is Not Up To Snuff, Says Study

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  • How do I get a job there?
    • by sycodon (149926) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @11:07PM (#42112889)

      Ever notice that the Advertisements load faster and are of better quality (DPI) many times than the video?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In fact, I have! I live in China and tried to use Hulu through a VPN. The actual shows SUCKED(lag, stutter, failure of the player to transition from ads back to the regular show) but the ads never skipped a beat.

        Been using pirate bay and have never looked back.

      • by runeghost (2509522) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:34AM (#42113533)

        Not exactly. What I notice about ads is that they often try to load in a higher quality than the video I'm watching, then stutter and choke on the crappy bandwidth that is the best I can get where I live. Or they try to do something fancy and interactive, and hang or crash my browser. And then I wonder again why I'm not just downloading my content from the pirate bay...

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          That's been my experience as well; I can't get a CBS station here so I watch Big Bang Theory on the CBS's web site. However, I can't find any current episodes on TPB, just the first four seasons.

      • by LocalH (28506)

        You mean higher bitrate or resolution. DPI has no meaning in the world of video, with different display devices.

        • by sycodon (149926)

          Yeah...that.

      • by SeaFox (739806)

        No, in fact I see the opposite on Hulu quite often. The advertisements are of such poor quality I sometimes wonder how Hulu tricked companies into paying for the placement.

      • by smellotron (1039250) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @01:10AM (#42113723)
        Ever notice that the Advertisements load faster and are of better quality (DPI) many times than the video?

        No [opera.com]

      • by sarysa (1089739)
        Higher resolution (or poorer compression), yes. Loads faster, absolutely not. Drives me nuts frankly -- I abandon videos on my sketchy home wifi when the ads chug on Hulu. If anything I hope they learned from this study to keep the ads' bps close to that of the content.

        In before a million posts about AdBlock. I put up with the ads simply because I want this business model to succeed. Yes, I suppose that makes me stupid. Though I'll be ready for the day they can seamlessly insert ads into the same stream as
    • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @09:54AM (#42116267)

      So in short, We want TV Quality Video.

      Not so much news. If the video is choppy or looks bad, we tend to not want to watch it.

      There is the people who called Color TV a fad. However its success was in the fact that the Color TV didn't come with a bunch of disadvantages, It was better to have color vs. Black and White. Now with Internet Video. There are advantages to it. However Lag and Quality are major disadvantages. And will not catch on unless both are resolved.

      In many cases in both Lag and Quality have improved with advancements in network speed combined with better quality data compression, However still the load times means we need to invest into watching something vs. the old flipping through channels, to see what is on and if it catches you attention.

  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @10:20PM (#42112545)

    "If a video freezes for 1% of its total play time, 5% less of its total play time is watched, on average."

    no shit, cause it pisses you off to sit there watching a fuzzy video of a ZX Spectrum game that the asshat somehow encoded and uploaded at 20480P and is hosted by blip

  • by jasontheking (124650) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @10:24PM (#42112585)

    so passenger ships shouldn't get dodgy video playback equipment, cause people might jump overboard, even if its freezing?

    I guess I should read the article, huh..

    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      Well sure, what did you think really happened on the Titanic?

      • I don't know, I forgot the ending of the movie . . .
        • by jd2112 (1535857)

          I don't know, I forgot the ending of the movie . . .

          Leo DiCraprio Dies! Probably the best performance of his career.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @11:20PM (#42112979)

        It hit a digital iceberg. But since the bit rate was slow and the codecs were primitive (it was still 1912 after all), the iceberg was all jagged. Due to a couple of lost packets, the bulkheads didn't get assembled completely. Oh and some asshole damaged a router that connected the forward and aft parts of the ship when he was screwing some chick in a car. Naturally, the ship split into two smaller LANs. By then the quality of the streaming Waterworld movie went to shit and people started jumping off the ship to save their sanity (though arguably, this was an impossible task). Kate Winslet got naked at some point, but since she didn't show much, everybody on the ship started searching for their porn elsewhere. This caused the data center to overheat. Wisely, the captain scuttled the ship to provide additional cooling. The End.

      • Well sure, what did you think really happened on the Titanic?

        I stopped watching it because the video froze for a few seconds and never saw the end.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's my opinion that the summary was carefully worded to avoid mentioning what they're "jumping ship" from.

      Assuming, of course, it's not about real ships and people jumping off of them.

      My battleship for an editor!

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @10:26PM (#42112603)
    260,000,000 minutes of watched video is less than 1 day of youtube viewing (500 years per day)
    • Re:BIG data? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ZahrGnosis (66741) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @10:49PM (#42112737) Homepage

      Ah, good, I'm glad someone already mentioned this. Big did not deserve to be italicized there not only because 260 million minutes of video isn't "that much" (!) in terms of internet streaming viewers, but the statistics aren't really based on number of minutes of video analyzed... the main statistics are more about viewership and certain events (video startup, video freezing), which could be surrounded by hours of uninteresting video time that didn't really contribute to some of the metrics.

      Netflix has, what, 20+ million individual viewers per month? 10 hours a piece isn't hard to imagine. As the parent pointed out youtube is much larger than that.

      It's still very interesting analytics. it's not always the size that matters [happytechnologist.com] with "big" data. But let's not get carried away with the italics now people... this way madness lies.

      • " But let's not get carried away with the italics now people... this way madness lies."

        It leads to ALL CAPPS!

  • Users who experience failures when they try to play videos are less likely to return to the same website in the future.

    Take note, Slashdot.

  • People don't keep using things that are broken, says latest scientific study from the Romero Institute. Professor Obvious, chair of the Three Kinds of Lies committee, said today that it was a shocking discovery. Many businesses have for years been selling things that are intentionally broken and assuming that people would simply keep buying them despite alternatives being available. Obvious has been nominated for an igNobel prize for his work, and says future studies may even uncover the precise mechanics

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @10:52PM (#42112761)

      Professor Obvious, chair of the Three Kinds of Lies committee, said today that it was a shocking discovery.

      Could you find a new hobby besides posting here? The purpose of studies is not just to confirm knowledge or common sense suspicions, but to quantify that knowledge. There is no way in fuck that Professor Obvious knows a priori that an additional 1 second delay will cause 6% of viewers to flee. Professor Brilliant might know this, but that ain't me and it ain't you.

      • "The purpose of studies is not just to confirm knowledge or common sense suspicions, but to quantify that knowledge. There is no way in fuck that Professor Obvious knows a priori that an additional 1 second delay will cause 6% of viewers to flee. Professor Brilliant might know this, but that ain't me and it ain't you."

        I think the OP's point is that some research is simply not worth the paperwork and grant money. I mean knowing precisely how broken a video can be before people stop watching is interesting, b

        • Re:Romero Institute (Score:5, Interesting)

          by chmod a+x mojo (965286) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:08AM (#42113379)

          Well I think that video streaming sites would be VERY interested in this data. Probably interested enough to at the very least partially fund the research.

          Hmmm, Thinking about it, probably any type of retailer would be interested in data like this. It's a quantifiable amount of time before loss of interest, not just "customers hate waiting".

          Another interesting tidbit from this study, it's probably a bad idea to put an ad at the very beginning of the video ( for ad supported sites ) since most ads are more than two seconds long. This may seem counter intuitive since if you show the ad BEFORE the video you shouldn't have to interrupt the actual video - like hulu does it - and you would think users would prefer getting it out of the way first so as not to be interrupted. Then again that breaks the traditional commercial model that people are used to from television and may take them out of their comfort zones.

          • by Altrag (195300)

            What they really should do is play the ad after the video. Sure you'd lose out on the people who close the window partway through the video, but since almost every video site has a "you might also like.." linkbox after the video, they have a perfect place to capture a semi-attentive audience who aren't leaving right away (they're looking around for the next video to view.)

            Of course they'd want some metrics to determine things like the average length of time that a person spends on that page before deciding

        • by tsotha (720379)
          It's probably not worth grant money, but to online content providers and advertisers this is gold.
        • I think the OP's point is that some research is simply not worth the paperwork and grant money. I mean knowing precisely how broken a video can be before people stop watching is interesting, but theire are more interesting, and possibly more important, things out there. Studies like these divert resources from those research projects especially now during hard economic times.

          Well, in the OP perfect world where everybody else is lined up with their beliefs and values, perhaps. In the real world, I bet this is where the money is because that is where the people are spending it and therefore judge it interesting and important by voting with their money. Providing people what they want is what will stimulate trade which will help the economy. Planned guesses at what might help the economy are less than optimistic given past histories with such things.

      • by Maow (620678)

        Professor Obvious, chair of the Three Kinds of Lies committee, said today that it was a shocking discovery.

        Could you find a new hobby besides posting here? The purpose of studies is not just to confirm knowledge or common sense suspicions, but to quantify that knowledge. There is no way in fuck that Professor Obvious knows a priori that an additional 1 second delay will cause 6% of viewers to flee. Professor Brilliant might know this, but that ain't me and it ain't you.

        Give him/her a break; their posts are almost always insightful or entertaining. In this case, you are correct in that the quantification is useful info, however the GP post was entertaining in that it was humorous.

        GirlInTraining, please don't stop posting here.

    • Re:Romero Institute (Score:5, Informative)

      by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @11:25PM (#42113013)

      Look, no one gives a flying fuck about YouTube videos of Fluffy and Buffy if we're talking about cute poodles. Now, if we are talking about two-legged bitches, that's another issue.

      Let's be serious here, we're talking about porn.

      Seriously, it's hard to get hard with choppy video of the "old in-and-out". For the total turn-on, we require high quality video and a nice transfer rate. Seriously.

      I mean, how am I going to get my "freak" on with stilted choppy bad video? I might as well go down to the local "Adult Entertainment Shop" and buy a CD or check into a booth (with complementary kitchen towel roll (COSTCO) and a sticky floor)...

      Come on people, good video and "personal satisfaction" go, er, hand in hand...

      • by Altrag (195300)

        Interesting theory, but I suspect its probably worse for non-porn. If the 30s video of Fluffy doing a backflip takes 20s to load or looks like a slideslow, chances are you'll already be searching around for something more entertaining long before Fluffy's feet leave the ground.

        On the other hand if you're in the middle of getting your wank on, you're probably less likely to take a "break" while you hunt around for a site with better video quality and thus more likely to overlook / ignore blips in the video

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @10:39PM (#42112679)

    The metrics mentioned aren't really about video quality, which I tend to think of as things like the resolution, encoding artifacts, sound/video sync, etc. These are more about the video player functioning correctly, at any quality of video: that it starts playing the video soon after the user hits "play", and it doesn't drop out during the middle of playing. That's a kind of video quality, sure, but it's closer to "I stopped watching b/c the damn player didn't work" vs. "I stopped watching b/c the video's quality was too low".

    • by Smauler (915644)

      Definitely - I don't mind low quality video most of the time. Sorry, but people who require high definition are looking at the picture, and not the content.

      Skipping, pausing, buffering, out of sync sound, and flakey sound are the things that bother me. They're nothing to do with video quality as most people understand it.

      • Definitely - I don't mind low quality video most of the time. Sorry, but people who require high definition are looking at the picture, and not the content.

        Skipping, pausing, buffering, out of sync sound, and flakey sound are the things that bother me. They're nothing to do with video quality as most people understand it.

        To each his own I guess. While it's not as important as proper basics, high def is still pretty high on my list.

      • by grahamm (8844)

        Granted that it is a lower bit rate, but Spotify seems to manage to reliably deliver audio streaming with almost instant start and no pauses. So maybe the video streaming sites could learn from this.

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      This isn't about quality of the video at all. It's about QOS for video. [ciscopress.com]

      This report is what Comcast uses to determine just how much to throttle Netflix to get the most people to come running back to cable but not run afoul of the FCC.
  • Five... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @10:39PM (#42112681) Journal

    5) Users bail when the video loads and it's a commercial that can not be skipped.

    Because unwanted, unskippable commercials are exactly like a pause before the video starts equal to the number of seconds the commercial plays. (See (1).)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      5) Users bail when the video loads and it's a commercial that can not be skipped.

      Because unwanted, unskippable commercials are exactly like a pause before the video starts equal to the number of seconds the commercial plays. (See (1).)

      In Australia Youtube now interupts your video at a random point and inserts unskippable ads. I have stopped using Youtube for the most part. That's just too annoying.

    • by PNutts (199112)

      Definitely. And worse to watch four videos on a site that have the same unskippable ad at the beginning of each. It's a good time saver as it makes me realize I don't need to consume the content.

    • Because unwanted, unskippable commercials are exactly like a pause before the video starts equal to the number of seconds the commercial plays.

      Worse... they're loud with superficial friendliness that says, "my friend, I have a wonderful offer for you..." Ugh, I'd take a throbber any day over pre-video ads.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Or worse than that, "Get your Depends and all of your incontinence products delivered discretely from home! Just go to hdis.com! Nobody has to know!"

    • by Splab (574204)

      What really pisses me off is when it starts playing automatically which a lot of US news sites do.

      Oh and commercials that are longer than the video content. Or commercials for pure US products...

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Or, a 5 second commercial BEFORE the 30 second commercial starts. "Your content will start in a moment." And "your content" is a COMMERCIAL.

    • by Simulant (528590)
      This. I will close every video with an unskippable commercial of more than a few seconds.
  • I always make a download of any video I watch, and I watch it during download. Firstly, I don't see anything frozen, except EOF, of course. Secondly, I live in Russia. In Soviet Russia, TV watches YOU! - and I cannot be sure that the video I see today will be available tomorrow. And the last: Both Flash and Virii are NOT available for platform I use, so I have no choice except migration to Windows.

  • The most obnoxious buzz word out there currently.
  • They say it's impatience, but if you're on a broadband connection and you're used to videos starting to play in less than 2 seconds, then when it drags out you just assume something's wrong and you move on, possibly to go back to it later. How is that impatience?
  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @10:59PM (#42112829)

    10. "You don't have Flash 10.7 installed and need to upgrade to Flash 10.7" when you're running Flash 11.x
    9. Embedded ads
    8. 'special' video players (I'm looking at you ABC)
    7. Video freeze during play due to lack of server response
    6. Sound but no video
    5. Video but no sound
    4. Incompatible video formats
    3. Video resolution inappropriate to the method of delivery...either way too high or way too low
    2. Websites that insist on posting useless bandwidth-hogging 'talking head' videos rather than posting a simple photo and a text summary.
    1. Digital Rights Management and all its limitations

    • by xetovss (17621) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @11:08PM (#42112901) Journal

      You forgot to put this on your list: Videos skip and pause when fully buffered . I am not sure what is the actual cause for it is but something causes it, even on a 2.8GHz Core2Duo w/ 8GB of memory with Win 7 64bit I get that a lot especially with youtube sometimes with others.

    • Good call outs here. Every local news station has the worst video player mechanism. Rarely does my browser crash but it happens more than half the time I stumble on a local news site video. I try to exit those tabs as soon as I realize because those pages are loaded with shit. Local news sites are the absolute worst players and then they doubledown with 20 other concurrent flash apps playing at the same time. Idiots.
    • 2. Websites that insist on posting useless bandwidth-hogging 'talking head' videos rather than posting a simple photo and a text summary.

      This one is one of my pet peeves: I can't even count the number of times I've wanted to know more about something that could have been explained much more clearly AND in only a few passages of text but the author(s) insisted instead on making a video with a talking head that adds absolutely not a single thing to the topic. What's the point? Video should be actually used for something, but when it's just a head saying the same thing that could've been said in written text it's waste of everyone's time.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      "To watch this video you must install MS Silverlight".

    • by gravis777 (123605)

      2. Websites that insist on posting useless bandwidth-hogging 'talking head' videos rather than posting a simple photo and a text summary.

      So I see I am not the only one who visits foxnews.com [foxnews.com]

  • Pfft video (Score:5, Insightful)

    by megrims (839585) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @11:10PM (#42112911)

    Personally, I bail when the content is a video. Give me back my plain text internet, please.

    Videos are such a waste of time.

  • I could have told you this without an expensive study - the results are exactly what I would have expected.
    But will management listen to this study or will they continue to live in fantasy land where people actually like their poor service and advertising?
  • Back in the day most usability people were saying that putting graphics on web pages would mean that the load time would be too slow and people would leave. This was true, to an extent. Web pages that had too much stuff on it were probably abandoned more frequently. And we have been used to faster and faster loads.

    But the reality is that page loads have become slower, not only due to large number of ads, but a non responsive and evidently critically maimed Google Analytics. Yet despite these issues, u

    • by bmo (77928)

      You write this as if Google Analytics is the only ad service out there.

      Google Analytics is pretty responsive. Very responsive if you compare to a lot of other ad services.

      Another thing that has bogged down browsers over the years is the sheer amount of JS that dwarfs the amount of HTML on a web page, leading to an arms race to see who wins - the web page devs or the browser JS engine devs. The engine devs lose most of the time, and when the rare occasion happens that there is a breakthrough in JS speed, w

      • by adolf (21054)

        From the viewer's POV, video on the Internet sucks for the most part. It's not good enough for non-casual watching and is unlikely to be so for quite some time unless infrastructure becomes better.

        Works fine for me with Netflix on a PS3, 360, or Wii (in order of preference and quality). On the PC, it's a mixed bag, but at least the other three are consistent.

        Netflix's ~6Mbps streams can look pretty stunning on my calibrated 52" LCD, and it degrades gracefully instead of freezing if something else decides i

  • ... PornHub seems to keep going.

  • People abandon videos that don't play, big surprise. This has nothing to do with poor video quality. Experience tells users that if it's going to lag at the beginning it's probably going to lag the way through. Seems lke more short attention span than demanding quality expectations. It's surfing useless entertainment. These users aren't trying to watch something that their life depends on. Laggy video is not entertaining, so you switch it off. This isn't much of a scientific study. Anyone who publishes th
  • Simply press pause and wait for the video to load. That's how I watch all my videos.
    Streaming simply does not work. It's not a bandwidth issue, it's that the flash-based video players involved are crap and can't do buffer management or seeking properly.

    • The problem is more fundamental.

      The internet is fundamentally a best effort statistically switched packet network. No delivery guarantees. No particular order of delivery.

      Video uses temporal compression and requires timely delivery for a stable reconstruction of the video. Drop a master frame and all hell breaks loose. At a low level this is incompatible with the design of the internet.

      Throw in the fact that people are conditioned to a highly reliable delivery system (cable TV) with dedicated bandwidth and

      • by mikael_j (106439)

        In my experience it tends to be less a failing of the design and infrastructure of the Internet as a whole and more a failing of whoever is hosting the content (bogged-down server(s) or lack of bandwidth on their end).

        There are always exceptions, of course, I know a few people who insist on using "wireless broadband" even when they have access to FTTH/FTTP services simply because they chose the wireless service a year or two ago and they keep telling themselves it's "good enough" (while waiting 30-90 second

      • by scotts13 (1371443)

        (GRIN) I remember telling customers at the dawn of the (generally available) internet age, that standard TCP/IP was inherently unsuitable for time-dependent video (or audio!) content. They didn't believe me... "But it works! And it's cheeeper!"

  • by ebonum (830686)

    In other news, researchers have found that when people take a sip of beer and it tastes like sh*t, they drink less.

    Humans. Always stating the obvious.

  • Users who know that making something of good quality is possible are not going to accept worse quality at the same price.

    I am absolutely shocked at this revelation.

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:32AM (#42113517)
    They're not accounting for the 10 times a day I bail on a page because I DON'T WANT TO WATCH THEIR STUPID VIDEO AT ALL.
  • I really hate video services that won't let me pause the video and download slowly. My home internet is a rather unreliable wifi signal, and if I want to watch something while it's being finicky I like to pause it for a while and let the video player catch up. Certain video services (I'm looking at you Comedy Central) only download a small amount of the video in advance and it stutters so badly that I just close it and go do something else.

    I don't really understand the reasoning behind that decision
  • Been there done that. I now actively avoid video content on the internet. For instance, if I'm on Google news or some such, some of the news links lead to video content. Back when I clicked them, 80% - 90% of the time I'd have to watch an ad, or dismiss a banner at the bottom, or have another unrelated window automatically open. OR, the video would require some obscure codec, would freeze or fail to load, or the link would be dead - whatever. Maybe a tenth of the time I'd actually get the news story I wante

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