Quality Concerns Keep Viewers From Live Streaming Services

Concerns about poor quality is limiting the willingness of subscribers to streaming video services to pay for live content, according to a new report from video tech company Phenix.

New data released as part of Phenix’s report The Streaming Wars: The Real-Time Differentiator, found that 27% of adults in the U.S. who use a streaming service don’t think live channels are worth paying for due to “consistently poor streaming quality.”

Streamers won’t abide a poor-quality connection to video, according to the study. More than half of those responding--or 53%--said they would abandon a poor-quality stream in 90 seconds or less.

The survey also said that 21% don’t stream live content more because they don’t want to deal with delays and buffering; 11% said their streaming service offers a live option, but they haven’t tried it, and 19% said they would switch streaming platforms if there was an alternative with a better live option.

Phenix research found that consumer were willing to pay no more than $20 a month on streaming subscriptions, and 31% said they would not pay more for live content. 44% were willing to pay an additional $5 a month for live content now.

“We’re in the midst of an industry shift, seeing live-content offerings surface from platforms traditionally known for streaming pre-developed programming, like Hulu (opens in new tab) and YouTube, with many more to follow,” said Stefan Birrer, co-founder and CEO of Phenix.

“’Live’ has become the ‘survival of the fittest’ trait for streaming platforms, and recent updates like the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize in-game betting shows how ripe the opportunity is,” Birrer said.

“Many consumers don’t think ‘live’ content is worth paying for, however, and some haven’t even been willing to explore it yet because of everything they hear about regarding the poor quality from the media and more importantly, from their friends. Real money is on the line – whether in the form of platform subscriptions or in the near future, betting (which represents $150 billion) – and a stream that lags behind makes it impossible to engage in the way that consumers need,” he said. “Across all avenues, especially interactive content like sports and esports, ‘live’ can only become a true differentiator once we make it a real-time experience by removing delays and buffering. We need an industry wide technological overhaul to achieve the lofty sights we’ve set.”

Sports programming is a key to attracting viewers to live service. Phenix found that 13% think there are too many services to sign up for to get the sports coverage they want. Legalized sports betting--embraced by 11% of those studied--should drive viewers to live services to see the progress of the games they’ve bet on.

The study was conducted online with research company YouGov.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.