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  • Writer's pictureCandace Bryan

Streaming Video Viewers Talk About 6 of Their Biggest UX Frustrations

Consumers are increasingly feeling that, when it comes to the Streaming Wars, they are getting the short end of the stick. As more services launch, people are having to pay more to access the content they want. Worse yet, the experience offered by streaming services doesn’t always merit the high costs. While many viewers are now paying as much as they did for cable (or more), they are having more experiential problems with online video.

Recently, a popular post on Reddit spoke to the frustration many consumers are feeling towards video streaming apps and the poor experiences they provide. The post (which made it to Reddit’s front page with a massive 36K upvotes and nearly 4K comments) specifically complained about issues with Disney+ and HBOMax’s apps on Roku. But it highlights broader issues facing the industry—and the thousands of comments responding to the post reveal a lot of issues with streaming video across the industry and across devices.

“I know media companies aren't used to acting like tech companies, but that's what their biggest competitor, Netflix, excels at—technology,” said the post’s author. “My hope is, as these competitors mature, that they invest in their technology, back end, and front end user experiences similarly.”

There are some great lessons here for the OTT industry. Below, we’ve aggregated some of the comments from Reddit that illustrate the most common consumer frustration with our industry and reveal opportunities for improvement.

Bad user interfaces make finding your favorite content difficult.

“Just give me ‘continue watching’ on the first line and I'll like any service,” says one comment. This is a common frustration across apps, including Netflix. When you’re bingeing a particular show over the course of a week or month, it can be annoying to have to search for the show each time you log in. OTTs are eager to spotlight alternate content a user may want to watch when they log in, but it can get in the way of a smooth user experience.

It shouldn’t take effort to binge shows, but it often does. Another user says: “Can anyone please explain to me why the hell Disney+ does not have a 'next episode' button?? I can't fathom the reasoning behind it. It makes binging shows kind of clunky.”

Disney+ isn’t the only platform without this prized feature. Making it easy for users to keep watching or seamlessly skip to a new episode is a crucial way to increase session length and drive loyalty. And clearly it’s important to viewers. That’s why OTT’s like Netflix have introduced other ways to make binging easier, such as Smart Download, their automated-download feature.

Lagging makes viewing frustrating.

“The HBOmax app on my Roku TV is super laggy and it’s really annoying. I actively hate using it. Another user says it’s “so slow it’s insane.”

Users expect their video apps to be smooth and for content to start the instant they hit play. Constant lag or startup delays will not only cause them to leave the app, but it will increase the likelihood that they will churn or watch on your competitors’ apps instead.

Learn how to reduce your first frame to <1 second from a moment a viewer hits play.

Discovering content you actually want to watch can feel impossible.

Content discovery is a big concern for users, and these comments demonstrate that many platforms make it difficult and annoying.

  • “Like seriously. How hard is it to show me every f***ing movie in a single genera via an alphabetical list.”

  • “I think Netflix's UI is extremely data-driven and that makes it horrible. The computer is trying to do way more than I need it to and just getting in the way.”

  • “You have a database. Let me apply filters to let me sort it the way I want to see it.”

Recommending content a user might enjoy based on their viewing history and other factors is key to driving engagement, but it shouldn’t get in the way of users searching for and browsing a platform’s catalogue.

Content is spread across so many apps that consumer costs are soaring.

There are more streaming services than ever, and shows and movies are now spread across a dozen services. While Netflix used to have a near monopoly on the most popular content, as more media companies have launched their own services, they’ve taken their content with them.

One user says that it’s getting hard to afford all the entertainment they want, comparing it to costly cable that streaming was supposed to be better than: “I just don’t get how they think we’re all just gonna pay for 100 different subscription services. This is just modern day cable.”

Another user says it’s frustrating because there’s a lot of mediocre content across the apps. “None of the big streaming companies have much in the way of total unique content that's highly desirable to watch,” one user feels. “They don't want to license movies & shows that aren't their own. It's too expensive.”

Not all download features are created equal. Download technology has become a key feature across streaming apps, as viewers download to circumvent issues like re-buffering or to watch when they don’t have a connection. But when an app has a buggy or slow download feature, users get frustrated.

“I just tried [to watch downloaded content] on two flights and it said I needed an internet connection to watch what I downloaded. Very strange,” notes one user.

Even though a high number of users watch downloaded content when they have an internet connection, it’s important that it works when they don’t have a connection too. Since downloading is used to facilitate a better experience, it’s important that the download experience itself is perfect.

There are many other issues that users complain about, such as hearing-impared viewers having to turn on subtitles for each piece of content, or difficult to use rewind features. OTTs must invest in their technology to make sure they aren’t the ones users are complaining about. To solve some of your users most persistent viewing problems, check out Penthera’s easy-to-implement products for OTTs or contact us to learn more.

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