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Nearly one fifth of the U.S. can’t watch online HD video

Netflix buffering

Detailed extensively in Wistia’s “The State of HD Video Viewing in America” report, approximately eighteen percent of Americans are unable to stream high definition video due to poor download speeds. The comprehensive look at download speeds within the United States defines 2 Mbps as the minimum download speed to receive a high definition video stream. Wistia representatives choose the 2 Mbps mark for streaming high definition video as any speed below this level likely requires continually buffering and may simply cause the user to abandon the video due to the delays. People that fall into this category could include anyone from consumers that live in rural areas without broadband to employees working in a metropolitan area, but the company’s network is stretched too thin for high definition video streaming.

Distribution of SpeedAs a video hosting company, Wistia was able to collect and analyze millions of video-viewing events within the United States. After analyzing several weeks of data, Wistia discovered that 17.9 percent of people watching videos weren’t able to finish a high definition video stream without significant buffering.

Nearly ten percent of the entire group was watching video with an average download speed of 0-1 Mbps. When looking at the data by state and region, Wistia discovered that the Northeast United States has the least amount of people that couldn’t stream a high definition video smoothly. States like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland only had 10 to 15 percent of people that didn’t have download speeds of at least 2 Mbps.

On the flip side, the amount of people that can’t stream high definition video smoothly increases when moving west across the United States. In states like Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming, the percentage of people with less than a 2 Mbps download speed can reach up to 40 percent. More generally, people living within the mid-West area of the country are less likely to have fast download speeds. In addition, large states like California and Texas scores high on the amount of people without HD capability due to the large amount of rural areas in each state. When compared to a recent FCC study on download speeds, Wistia discovered that the data from this study correlates to the FCC’s findings. 

HD Distribution by StateIn order to analyze the workplace more significantly, Wistia took a sampling of 25 organizations which included four Internet companies, five universities, eight Fortune 500 companies, three government organizations and five technology companies.

Across the entire sampling, approximately one quarter of the workforce at those organizations weren’t able to stream a high definition video without buffering. More specifically, the technology companies came in at the lowest rate with only 14 percent unable to stream HD video and universities also did well at a rate of 18 percent.

Interestingly, the Internet companies and Fortune 500 companies had the highest percentages of people without the ability to stream in high definition. Both groups had an average rate above the 30 percent mark, however it’s possible that these organizations put a cap on Internet speeds in place in order to curtail streaming of non-work related videos on YouTube, Hulu and other sources of online video entertainment.