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3 billion data points reveal streaming TV’s surge

Streaming is flooding: The total number of hours spent watching streaming TV continues to rise as more consumers cut the cord to cable and satellite television service. In the past 12 months streaming TV consumption more than doubled, according to video data-analysis firm Conviva — and like a flood, these trends are impossible to ignore.

The latest evidence that watching TV via the internet is growing comes from Conviva’s All-Screen Streaming TV Census Report Q2 2018. Conviva collects and analyzes data from sensors installed in 3 billion streaming video applications from more than 200 publishing brands.

Each quarter the Conviva census measures fully-anonymized data from every second of every stream in its system. Conviva compares the collected data to data from the same period in the previous year. The company’s latest census report covers April 1 through June 30, 2018.

Three significant trends emerged from the Q2 census: Streaming TV consumption more than doubled in the past year; viewing is shifting from computers to mobile and tablet devices; and streaming TV quality continues to improve.

Cord-cutting for livestream TV

Streaming TV consumption stats

Total streaming TV viewing hours more than doubled in Q2 2018 compared to 2017, with a 115 percent consumption increase.

Peak concurrent plays, the number of simultaneously streaming TV viewers watching the same content, increased 118 percent from 3.7 million viewers at one time in 2017 to 7.9 million in 2018.

The World Cup topped all other streamed content in terms of concurrent plays when 7.9 million people streamed a match at the same time. The NBA Western Conference Finals seventh game had 5.3 million concurrent plays.

Big gains in concurrent viewers put a strain on bandwidth, which underscores the need for continued improvement and viewership growth, Conviva reports.

The devices we use to stream TV

Convivia tracks three classifications of streaming content viewing devices: mobile, which consists of smartphones and tablets; PCs (desktop computers); and internet-connected TVs. The Census tracks both the total number of plays and viewing duration.

Conviva’s Q2 2018 census reports a shift from PCs to mobile devices for viewing streaming content. In 2018 mobile devices were used for 49 percent of all plays, internet TVs for 27 percent, and PCs for 24 percent. Device usage changed significantly from 2017 when mobile devices were used for 39 percent of the plays, PCs for 38 percent, and internet TVs for 23 percent.

Conviva also noted that, as measured by total viewing hours, consumers preferred devices with larger screens, including TVs (51 percent) and PCs (20 percent), over mobile devices (29 percent) when they watched movies and other longer content.

Streaming TV video quality

TV content publishers know cord-cutters quit cable and satellite TV to save money. Publishers also realize customers will exit quickly if streaming video quality sucks. Because positive streaming TV experiences will attract more customers and retain existing subscribers, publishers look for continuous video quality improvements.

Conviva tracks five quality of experience (QoE) factors, all of which improved significantly since Q2 2017.

  • Video start failure (VSF): Terminated starts before content begins streaming decreased by 16 percent.
  • Exits before video start (EBVS): Customer who terminated plays before the video started dropped by 10 percent.
  • Video startup time (VST): Waiting time from when you push play until the video begins improved by 14 percent.
  • Rebuffering ratio: The amount of time spent with video interruptions and freezes decreased 24 percent.
  • Bit rate: Streaming image quality measured in megabits per second  — more is better — increased by 24 percent.

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