Study shows streamers abandon videos after 2 seconds of buffer

A recent study conducted by computer science Professor Ramesh Sitaraman of UMass Amherst suggests that people who stream videos online are typically impatient and would start abandoning videos they want to watch when buffering reaches even just two seconds. The results of the study are never new because it is typical for everyone to abandon videos that won’t load, however, it is surprising that it would only take 2 seconds of waiting for some to decide not to wait a little longer.

Professor Sitaraman’s findings were extracted from data collected by Akamai, a content delivery company. He was given access to data representing 23 million video views from 6.7 million unique visitors. Just so everyone will know, Akamai’s data are oftentimes used by Adobe, USA Today, Starz, and Verizon Wireless in their own studies. Thus, the professor based his study on data provided by a company that produces legit information and not just from any surveys conducted online.

The professor’s findings basically complements with the pre-existing “four-second rule” study that describes surfers would take an average of 4 seconds to wait for any webpage to load before deciding to jump ship. It may not seem obvious for average users, but almost anything that is offered on the internet that passes through any internet browsers are being cached or downloaded to their machines; that is also applicable for videos. That is why, faster internet connection would always result to faster browsing or streaming.

If you want to read Professor Sitaraman’s report on this 2-second video streaming rule, you can download the PDF file from here. Furthermore, it is apparent that patience plays a significant role in pushing a person to wait or abandon videos they initially wanted to view but there could be more. That said, here are some factors that may affect one’s decision-making as far as video streaming is concerned.

Faster Internet Connection. Professor Sitaraman’s study showed that people who are using fiber optic internet connection are among the most impatient ones simply because of their expectations. People who have subscribed for faster connection like fiber, cable and DSL have their minds set that they have lighting fast internet connection. While it is normal for videos to buffer before playing, the 2 to 4 seconds of waiting may seem like an eternity.

Powerful Devices. For average computer users, it is a common misconception that powerful devices (especially computers with high specs) can browse faster than normal computers, or those that have lower specs. The browsing speed totally depends on the speed of the connection provided by the ISP, however, more powerful computers can process data or launch browser applications and plugins necessary for playing videos faster. People who knew they have high-grade devices cannot wait longer for a video to load. That’s why in the findings, mobile video streamers are seen to be more patient than those who are using typical computers to browse.

Length of Videos. It has also been shown that people who are expecting to watch lengthy videos are among those that can wait longer. It is obvious that they are expecting that long videos will take more time to download than shorter ones.

Importance of Videos. People who want to watch videos that may have made an impact to them may tend to wait for several seconds before deciding to abandon them and look for something else.

Server Response. Those who are techie enough to understand how servers work may or may not wait longer than average users. Majority of webhost companies nowadays offer superfast services to website owners. The loading time of a website depends on how fast the servers respond to queries and such is also applicable to videos.

Two seconds may be a short time to decide whether to continue waiting the buffering video or not, for some it is enough to evaluate factors affecting the load time of the video. As for you, how many seconds can you spare to wait for the video to load?

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