The 2017 OTT Streaming Market Year in Review

PART I: The State of the OTT Market

Conviva, the leading provider of measurement and analytics services for 7 out of the top 10 US SVOD publishers (as noted by Parks & Associates), has a global data set comprised of viewer data from over 180 countries connected to the internet by over 1,200 internet service providers (ISP). Conviva collects a continuous video measurement census of 57%* of the United States internet population.

Viewing Time
Across Conviva’s global customer base, there were 12.6B viewing hours measured in 2017, which represented over a 100% growth rate this past year. These viewing hours were distributed across 2.4B various devices, and there was a 9% growth rate shown in different devices being used as a TV to stream over the internet. Viewing hours broken out by region are as follows: 58% in North America, 21% in Europe, 19% in Asia, and 2% around the rest of the world. Conviva has seen the viewing hour growth rate accelerate over the past several years as more consumers move their TV-watching from traditional linear pay TV services to a very wide variety of OTT services offered by both pure play OTT publishers and MVPDs as well as pay TV providers diversifying their service offerings. Conviva expects to see continued accelerated growth over the course of 2018 across both existing and new customers.

Globally, Conviva’s viewer hours were initiated by 38.8B total plays, a 74% growth from the same period last year. 54% of these were within North America, while 25% came from Asia, and 18% from Europe; the remaining 3% was from the rest of the world. By December 2017, the traffic on Conviva’s platform was 36% in-browser video, while 64% came from video apps. This was the opposite of what December 2016 showed, translating to 160% growth in video app attempts, and just 23% growth in browser attempts (see other browser versus app QoE numbers in Part II). While much of Conviva’s publisher base continues to support and embrace both native apps and a variety of in-browser player frameworks, this data shows that over the course of 2017 consumer preferences shifted from browser-based streaming to native apps. This might be explained by the below data on the increasing popularity of TV-connected OTT devices and applications.

Over the year, Conviva experienced many peak concurrent events, with the highest peak at 9.76M concurrent connections. Overall, there was 103% growth from December 2016! These spikes in viewership are often driven by both popular live sports events around the globe as well as leading original content shows that drive concurrent viewership just as if the show were a live event. Year on year, Conviva has been seeing more of these spikes as well as a general lift in the baseline. What’s more, the average completion rate Conviva witnessed was 46.6% across all devices, along with a 71% growth in viewing time per device. By device type, the average completion rate over the course of the year was: Xbox at #1, Roku following at #2, Android coming in at #3, and iOS at #4. From this data, an assumptive conclusion can be drawn showing (assuming that the majority of Xbox and Roku viewing is not mobile, but rather in-home) that classic in-home TV viewing behavior is more conducive to completing episodes and/or live event viewing. Whereas streaming on a mobile device may more likely be interrupted, or simply involve a more impatient viewer.

Conviva data shows that streaming OTT TV devices drive higher video consumption versus mobile devices and traditional computers. Roku drives the highest content engagement levels followed by FireTV, Apple TV, then gaming consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox, and streaming devices such as Chromecast. Video streaming on mobile platforms is the second most popular and Conviva has seen over 2X consumption on iOS (7.45 hours/device) versus Android devices (3.22 hours/device). Video streaming on Macs (3.16 hours) was double that of PCs (1.57 hours). For a more comprehensive view of streaming device popularity please see the table below that shows both number of plays and viewing hours as a percentage of total.

iOS devices 21% 13%
Android devices 27% 18%
Game Consoles 10% 14%
Roku 11% 24%
Chromecast 1% 2%
Apple TV 4% 8%
FireTV 5% 9%
Mac 3% 3%
PC 17% 10%


PART II: State of OTT Streaming Video Quality of Experience (QoE)

The four global QoE metrics that Conviva’s customers monitor closely and set KPIs against to drive the most increased engagement and subscriber retention include:

  1. Rebuffering Ratio
  2. Video Start Time (VST)
  3. Bitrate
  4. Video Start Failures or Exits (VSF)

Video Start Time
Conviva saw a total of 47.1B attempted plays in 2017, 38.8B of which successfully started watching the video, and the rest (17.7%) resulted in a video start failure (VSF) or an exit before the video started (EBVS). This equates to 8.3B times a consumer attempted to watch a video and was unsuccessful! Over the course of the year, 3.6% of the attempts were VSFs whereas 14.1% were EBVSs. These 8.3B lost attempts could have driven 2.6B more viewing hours for the OTT market in 2017!

Through the course of the year, it took on average 4.84 seconds for a video to start (this is a 23% improvement from last year), with a high of 6.82 seconds and a low of 4.07 seconds according to monthly averages. Video start times can really spike when there are issues with a CDN provider that is experiencing very high loads or operational issues. In December 2017, the average VST was 4.37s in apps and 5.96s in browsers – this difference remained the same for most of the year. Overall, the average bitrate Conviva saw was 3.44Mbps – this represented a 25% increase over the course of the year.  As bitrate increases pixilation decreases and high definition screens are fully utilized.

Rebuffering ratio is the percentage of time a consumer spends waiting for video to load and play versus the amount of time they spend watching the video play – so, for a 30-minute show, a 1% rebuffering ratio means the viewer experienced an 18-second interruption resulting in waiting versus watching. The average rebuffering ratio was 0.95% for the year with monthly averages going as low as 0.79% and as high as 1.66%. For the year it improved roughly 0.1%.

How much does the spinning buffering wheel impact viewing time, viewer satisfaction, and ultimately revenue? Conviva’s global data shows that in 2017, a 0.2% increase in rebuffering ratio can reduce play duration by nearly eight minutes! Furthermore, consequent increases can continue to drive down engagement by more than 50%. The below graph shows how the rebuffering ratio can be correlated to viewer engagement. Side note, the first bar in the chart below is from stream browsers that are quickly clicking in-and-out of videos while looking for something to watch. Overall, this data means that real-time monitoring of QoE metrics can be used as predicative indicators of increased or decreased engagement, viewer satisfaction, and OTT revenue.

The OTT market continues to see explosive growth not only in the number of viewers, but the amount of time spent viewing as well. While the data in this report is based solely on Conviva’s customers, the Conviva customer base covers close to 60% of the internet population and measures 7 out of the top 10 SVOD providers in the US, as well as many other OTT providers globally. As far as Conviva is aware, this is the largest, multi-publisher, global OTT streaming video continuous measurement census available.

*In 2017, Conviva saw 1.04B unique streaming apps on devices just in the United States. Conviva data shows on average there are 2.2 video streaming apps per device; in the U.S. there are
2.9 devices per person. Of the entire US internet population (287M), Conviva sees 163M unique internet viewers.

It should be noted that the following data in this report is international, and actual customer names are not disclosed. This is an anonymized summary of all Conviva customer data providing a unique, independent view of the state of the OTT market.