Slow-loading videos get the boot after 2 seconds

Internet users have little patience for online videos that don't start up immediately. In fact, a research paper by the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Akamai Technologies puts the limit of their patience at two seconds.

And even those who hang in there past the two-second mark don't do so for much longer, report authors S. Shunmuga Krishnan of Akamai and Ramesh K. Sitaraman of UMass Amherst and Akamai.

"[E]ach incremental delay of 1 second [results] in a 5.8 percent increase in the abandonment rate," the pair wrote.

Even when the video is up and running, "a moderate amount of interruptions can decrease the average play time of a viewer by a significant amount" so that a viewer experiencing a rebuffer delay of 1 percent plays 5 percent less of the video compared to a viewer with no rebuffering.

And, the report added, a total failure of the video could be catastrophic for the content provider.

"[A] viewer who experienced failure is 2.32 percent less likely to revisit the same site within a week than a similar viewer who did not experience a failure," the researchers noted.

The report's conclusions are that content providers must first provide a high quality streaming experience and then try to figure a way to monetize their video content.

"The key question is whether and by how much increased stream quality can cause [original emphasis] changes in viewer behavior that are conducive to improved monetization," the report said.

Understanding the correlation between viewer disconnect and dissatisfaction and the quality of the network is paramount for content delivery network (CDN) architects, the report said.

"As all forms of media migrate to the Internet, both video monetization and the design of CDNs will increasingly demand a true causal understanding of this nexus" between stream quality and viewer behavior, the researchers concluded.

For more:
- Akamai and UMass Amherst developed this paper

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