Any rebuffering at all costs video providers a lot of money, Akamai says

According to one of the broadcasters interviewed for the report, a good target is to keep rebuffering below 0.5%. (YouTube)

Rebuffering stands as one of the chief complaints for consumers of streaming video, and now Akamai is saying that even a little bit of rebuffering can cut significantly into revenues.

According to “Understanding the Value of Consistency in OTT Video Delivery,” a new report that Akamai has released in conjunction with MTM, a single instance of video rebuffering could result in more than $85,000 of lost revenue.

Akamai calculated the total by looking at the volume of video traffic for a major U.S. network between June 2017 and June 2018, which totaled 370 million video plays. Using data from Akamai’s Media Analytics tool, the company saw that each instance of rebuffering resulted in a 1% abandonment rate.

“With an average play duration of just more than eight minutes, a single rebuffer translates to 496,417 hours lost, or the equivalent of 10.7 million ad impressions (assuming 11 minutes of ad time per hour at an average of 30 seconds per ad). At a CPM of $8, one instance of rebuffering could ultimately lead to $85,500 in lost revenue,” wrote Akamai in a blog post.

Those lost dollars could certainly pile up over the course of a single streaming session or programming event. Akamai is basing its estimate on research data combined with information gleaned from interviews with senior executives from video distributors discussing the importance and impact of streaming video quality on commercial success.

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“While there’s no set industry standard to measure online video quality of experience, rebuffering is the one indicator that consistently resonates in every conversation. Given the direct relationship between rebuffering and viewer engagement, avoiding or minimizing those interruptions are a top priority for most service providers,” Akamai wrote.

According to one of the broadcasters interviewed for the report, a good target is to keep rebuffering below 0.5%. Below that level, 90% of sessions are completed. At 0.5% to 1%, session completion levels drop to 80%. At 1%, completion levels down to 50%.

Of course, rooting out the source of rebuffering issues can be difficult. The issue can be traced back to the ISP, content delivery networks, the end user device or browser, Wi-Fi configurations, available bandwidth, network traffic and the content itself.