Study: Consumers Have No Patience for Buffering

It may seem obvious to content providers, but a new study from video analytics firm IneoQuest Technologies puts a finer point on it: consumers can’t stand buffering. And waiting for content to load isn’t just a nuisance, it’s actually making people angry.

Defining the impatience of digital consumers as “buffer rage” (as IneoQuest puts it: “a state of uncontrollable fury or violent anger induced by the delayed or interrupted enjoyment of streaming video content from over-the-top services”), research from the Mansfield, Mass.-based company found that more than half of consumers who watch online video have “experienced rage as a result of their video buffering.”

Considering that 43% of consumers watch streaming video on a daily basis, according to IneoQuest’s data, that translates into a lot of angry consumers.

“This data shows that OTT service providers need to do more to ensure the delivery of a more reliable, consistent, enjoyable viewing experience to consumers in order to prevent a rampant Buffer Rage epidemic,” said Kurt Michel, senior marketing director at IneoQuest, in a statement.

Two-thirds of digital content consumers in IneoQuest’s research admitted to simple frustration with video buffering, while one in five (21%) said they were “severely” irritated when a video didn’t load quickly. IneoQuest even compared “buffer rage” to road rage, and reported that 34% of video consumers under the age of 35 considered a slow-loading video more rage-inspiring than being cut off on a freeway.

While the impatience of younger digital consumers may be shrugged off as just a sign of the times, IneoQuest’s data did point to some damaging problems for the online video ecosystem: more than a quarter (27%) of survey respondents said buffering hurts the online video experience before a video even starts, and 34% reported buffering interruptions within 15 seconds of starting a video.

“This is particularly relevant when, as the study indicated, more than 40% of consumers will only wait 10 seconds or less before clicking out of a buffering video, and of these, nearly 40% will never attempt to re-watch the video,” the study reads.