CBS All Access, Netflix get nearly 4 percent more viewers while YouTube viewing slips, Limelight says

Online video consumption is continuing to grow, with users spending more time watching over-the-top video than before, but price is gradually becoming less of a reason to cut the cord -- if audiences are cutting it at all. However, viewers are increasingly demanding better quality from their OTT video stream, and that may be behind a drop in YouTube viewing, a new Limelight report says.

In a survey asking consumers what circumstances would drive them to cut their pay-TV service, price is still a top factor in making the decision. But compared to just one year ago, when almost 38 percent of respondents said they would cut the cord if a pay-TV operator increased their subscription price, only 29.4 percent named price raises as a factor in cord cutting.

At the same time, viewers are steadily increasing the amount of online video that they watch. For example, the number of people who watch more than 10 hours per week of online video has climbed steadily over the past year. In May 2015 about 12.2 percent of viewers surveyed by Limelight indicated they watched 10-plus hours per week; by June 2016 that number had climbed to 18.3 percent.

Limelight state of the online video industry

Source: Limelight State of Online Video 2016

"Surprisingly, the number of respondents who would 'never terminate cable or pay television subscription' has risen from 10 percent to 15 percent since 2015. This reinforces the diminishing impact of price on cord cutting and a shift to content availability driving behavior," said Limelight in a release.

Fewer people are watching just one to two hours per week of online video; that number dropped from 37.8 percent in May 2015 to 28.27 percent in June 2016, Limelight's newest "State of Online Video" report revealed.

Limelight surveyed 1,086 consumers in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada during May 2016 for the report.

The CDN provider also found that viewers are slightly less concerned about buffering events, and slightly more concerned about video quality. Buffering still ranked as the most important concern when it came to video playback, with a value of 3.11, but poor-quality video ranked second at 2.70. While Limelight speculated that the ranking indicated that users are "becoming more accepting of buffering" as a byproduct of streaming video, it could be equally likely that buffering events are becoming less common or shorter in length due to network capacity improvements, better adaptive bitrate streaming, improved devices, or a combination of factors. Still, most respondents continue to set their personal limit on buffering events at two. After that, they'll enthusiastically abandon a streamed video.

YouTube is also seeing a slip in viewership, according to the survey, while major SVOD services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and CBS All Access are gradually increasing. Viewing content on YouTube slipped 4.23 percent between December 2015 and June 2016, while SVOD services saw a 3.7 percent increase in viewership during the same period. That may bode well for the future of subscription video on demand, at least from major providers offering large libraries of both licensed and original content.

For more:
- see the release

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