With the fast proliferation of video streaming services, consumers now have many options for accessing video content, which has made it increasingly challenging for providers to stand out. In this highly competitive landscape, Quality of Experience (QoE) has become a critical factor in the success of video streaming services alongside content.
In this blog post, we will explore what QoE is and why it is important in video streaming, how it impacts user satisfaction, and what can be done to improve it. We will also discuss the factors that influence QoE and what video streaming providers can do to improve QoE to succeed in today’s market.
What is QoE in video streaming?
QoE is a measure of how well a user perceives a service, product, or system to meet their expectations. In the context of video streaming, it is the measure of how well the user experiences the video content they are streaming. The concept of QoE takes into account not only the technical quality of the video and the streaming app but also the user’s perception of that quality and whether or not the overall streaming experience meets their expectations. To accurately measure QoE, it is important to take into account both technical factors and subjective user perception.
For example, two users may be streaming the same video with the same resolution and bit rate, but one may perceive the video as having a better quality due to their own personal preferences, previous experiences with other video streaming services, or viewing environment, or . A user may have worse QoE when watching a video on a mobile device during their commute, compared to watching the same video on a desktop computer in a quiet room.
Why is ensuring a good QoE so important?
QoE is becoming increasingly important as streaming becomes the norm and more and more platforms and services appear. In such an overcrowded market, streaming providers must compete not only on the content they offer but also on the quality of their streaming experience.
A good QoE means that the user has a positive experience while streaming content. This includes the video quality, playback speed, reliability, and overall usability of the streaming service. A poor QoE can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction for the user, which can ultimately lead to them choosing a different streaming service.
Providing a good QoE is not only important for retaining users but also for attracting new ones. Consumers are increasingly turning to reviews and recommendations when deciding which streaming service to use. If a service has a reputation for poor QoE, it may struggle to attract new users.
Factors affecting QoE
QoE can be affected by a variety of factors, including the video’s resolution, bitrate, and frame rate. It can also be influenced by the user’s behavior, device, and internet connection, as well as by the way the streaming app is designed and performs.
Some of the most important factors affecting QoE include:
- Video quality: This includes factors such as bitrate, resolution, or frame rate. Videos that are blurry, pixelated, or have visible compression artifacts can negatively impact the user’s experience.
- Audio quality: Audio that is muffled, distorted, or out of sync can negatively impact the user’s experience.
- Buffering: Long and frequent buffering times can be frustrating for users and can negatively impact QoE.
- Latency: high in-app latency (the delay between the user’s action and the system’s response) and live video latency (the delay between the video stream and live events) has a negative impact on QoE.
- Connectivity: The user’s internet connection speed and reliability can also impact QoE. Slow or unreliable internet connections can result in buffering, interruptions, and poor video quality.
- User interface and content discovery: The design and usability of the user interface can impact QoE as well. A poorly designed or confusing interface can frustrate users and negatively impact their overall experience and their ability to find new content to consume
- Ads: While ads can be a necessary part of video streaming services’ revenue models, too many or poorly placed ads can negatively impact QoE. If ads don’t play well, interrupt the viewing experience too frequently, or are too long, users may become frustrated and have a poor perception of the service.
QoE is a holistic metric, and, to provide a high QoE, streaming services must optimize all these factors to provide a seamless and enjoyable viewing experience for their users.
How to improve QoE
To improve the QoE of their streaming services, providers need to prioritize two areas: analytics and smart multi-CDN.
On one hand, services need to implement a dedicated video analytics and application analytics tool that gives them full visibility into everything affecting their users’ quality of experience and serves as a guide to optimize it. On the other hand, they should adopt a smart approach to content delivery, relying on an advanced multi-CDN switching tool that can select the best CDN based on reliable QoE data.
Holistic, real-time analytics insights
To improve QoE, video streaming services need to have a deep understanding of their users’ behaviors, preferences, and experiences. This is where analytics comes in. By implementing a dedicated video analytics and application analytics tool, services can gain full visibility into everything affecting their users’ quality of experience and use it as a guide to optimize it.
Video analytics tools can provide insights into technical aspects such as video quality, streaming bitrate, buffering, and playback failures. They can also track user behavior, such as how long users are watching videos, which videos are the most popular, and where users are dropping off. Application analytics tools, on the other hand, can provide insights into the user’s experience with the streaming app, such as how long it takes to load, how quickly videos start playing, and how often the app crashes or freezes.
By leveraging these analytics tools, services can identify and address technical issues that are impacting QoE, such as slow load times, buffering, or poor video quality. They can also identify user trends and preferences, such as the most popular video categories or the devices users are most often streaming on. Armed with this data, services can make informed decisions about how to improve the overall user experience, optimize their streaming infrastructure, and ultimately improve QoE.
Multi-CDN: reliable, smart content delivery
One of the key technical factors that impact QoE is the content delivery network (CDN) used by the video streaming service. CDNs are responsible for delivering video content to users, and a slow or unreliable CDN can lead to buffering, poor video quality, and other issues that impact Quality of Experience.
To improve QoE, video streaming services should adopt a smart approach to content delivery, relying on an advanced multi-CDN switching tool that can select the best CDN based on reliable QoE data and a series of specified business rules. By monitoring Quality of Experience metrics in real-time, such as network latency, packet loss, and video quality, a multi-CDN switching tool can automatically switch to the CDN that is providing the best performance or cost at any given moment.
This approach ensures that users are always getting the best possible video streaming experience, regardless of network conditions or other external factors. It also helps to reduce the risk of service interruptions or outages, since the multi-CDN approach provides redundancy and ensures that video content can always be delivered, even if one CDN is experiencing issues.