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5 Huge Ways Streaming Audiences Have Changed Since 2018

April 23, 2019

You probably already know that streaming video viewers are frustrated whenever their video lags, buffers, or encounters any issue that impedes their watching. But you may be surprised to learn that in 2019, these kinds of frustrations are actually on the rise.

Our latest research on mobile streaming behavior in the U.S. — conducted in February 2019 — surveyed streaming video viewers and found that their frustrations have grown since we conducted a similar survey in February 2018. While last year 81% said they’d experience streaming frustrations, 88% reported being frustrated while trying to watch in 2019.

These increased issues represent just one way consumers’ attitudes and behaviors towards mobile streaming video and video download have changed over the last year. Below are the top ways audiences have evolved, and why video service providers should pay close attention to these shifts. In the increasingly crowded OTT industry, the providers who address these attitudes and behaviors will be in a much better position to compete.

1. More people are streaming at least weekly on their devices: 69% this year versus 52% in 2018.

Our respondents are watching more and more video on the go. Compared to 2018, 17% more of streaming viewers are watching on their phone or tablet every week in 2019. As viewers continue to be more frustrated by streaming issues, this increased mobile viewership presents a real problem for video providers, as it leads to a rise in the number of poor viewer experiences.

2. Viewers are less tolerant of streaming frustrations.

In 2018, 50% accepted that streaming can be frustrating, while in 2019 only 43% say they accept these frustrations.

When asked how they respond to streaming video frustrations, 7% fewer respondents said they accept frustrating experience than in 2018. This decrease in tolerance signals that viewers are likely to respond in other ways. In fact, while 88% of respondents said they are frustrated by streaming, here’s how they respond to those frustrations:

  • 56% said they give up again and trying later
  • 18% said they stop using a particular service
  • 7% cancel their subscription
  • 7% write a negative review in the App Store.

3. More people have used mobile video download: 54% this year versus 40% last year.

Download is becoming a more popular way to circumvent the issues often caused by mobile video streaming. While in 2018, 40% of those surveyed said they had downloaded video, this year saw a 14 point increase with 54% of respondents saying they’d used the feature. Further, this year a third of respondents said they download video at least monthly.

4. More viewers expect streaming providers to offer a download features: 58% this year versus 50% in 2018.

In 2019, download is not merely a premium feature for users: it’s one that almost two thirds of viewers expect to have. In 2018, half of viewers expected streaming providers to offer the ability to download, but in 2019 this number grew to 58% of viewers. This growth demonstrates that providers who fail to offer the feature will disappoint a large portion of people who watch content on their app.

5. More viewers would pay a premium for download functionality: 67% this year versus 54% in 2018.

Not only do users expect the ability to download, they’re also willing to pay for it. This year’s survey respondents jumped in enthusiasm for the feature, with 13% more willing to pay a premium between $1 and $5 dollars to be able to download — making a total of two-thirds of viewers. This should be a wakeup call to streaming providers: download can be a great opportunity to increase revenue and justify monthly costs for subscribers.

It may be surprising that as mobile video grows in popularity, so do frustrations. But as more consumers cut the cord, and as more streaming video providers compete for eyeballs, viewers increasingly expect a seamless experience. They’re less tolerant of streaming problems, and more enthusiastic about features that can help make viewing easier, like download. Providers should take these insights to heart, because consumers with waning patience for lag, buffering, and poor ad experiences have plenty of video apps to choose from. And providers who don’t offer viewers the experience they expect will lose subscribers and money to the ones that do.

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