Big Data

The future of streaming video is dependent on analytics

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The rapid growth of streaming video and internet-based television has empowered viewers to watch the content of their choice whenever they want, wherever they want, as often as they wish.

Yet there are still pain points around the viewing experience, from irrelevant ads to compounding subscription fees and technical challenges to a lack of compelling content. These factors often lead audiences to cancel subscriptions.


IBM Cloud Video Unit recently conducted a consumer survey to find out more about these pain points, revealing that applying data and analytics to gain insight into viewing habits will be crucial to the success of service providers. The companies that best apply data about their own audiences to optimize services, understand behavior and solve for pain points will be the ones that come out on top.

Here are three key findings:

  • Excessive ad content alienates audiences. Viewers cited an overload of ads as the number one reason they’ll cancel a subscription (27 percent). Lack of good content (20 percent) trails shortly behind.
  • Password sharing isn’t as rampant as believed. Only 27 percent of respondents have used someone else’s password to test a service. Most sharing happens among family members.
  • Sound technological infrastructure is essential. Around 17 percent of respondents reported that technical problems would likely drive them to cancel subscription video on demand (SVOD), and 49 percent expressed that the issue they encounter most often is buffering.


With 27 percent of viewers likely to cancel subscriptions because of excessive ads, it’s clear that dismissing audience preferences can make or break a relationship. By surveying analytics and determining whether audiences are willing to tolerate five-minute pre-roll ads or thirty-second mid-rolls, service providers can optimize viewing for consumers while ensuring advertisers get the engagement they want.

Data can also alleviate concerns associated with password sharing, once believed to cost the industry a half-billion dollars in lost revenue. Most sharing occurs within families, indicating that households view streaming services as they do traditional cable: one subscription for the whole family. Streaming services can also analyze general demographic trends to predict how users consume content. Doing so enables providers to determine who is accessing content at a given time. Thus, they can apply behavioral insights to and surface relevant content for the viewer, even if multiple people are using one account.

As live streaming grows in importance and prevalence, content providers must have the technology to handle massive spikes in viewer traffic to prevent site crashes and streaming disruptions.


Since its inception nearly four months ago, the IBM Cloud Video Unit helps clients across industries integrate video and use it as a strategic source of data and insight. Streaming video has undoubtedly changed how viewers consume content. Advanced data can help service providers better understand viewing habits and plan for peak demand. After all, for 17 percent of viewers, issues including buffering and delayed starts are cause for cancellation.

As the market expands and streaming video becomes increasingly popular worldwide, it’s imperative that service providers consistently optimize and enhance the viewing experience to retain and attract customers.

The findings from IBM Cloud Video Unit’s survey are clear: deep insights into consumer data through cognitive capabilities and advanced analytics will be a linchpin for service providers to thrive in the market and differentiate themselves in a sea of competition.

Learn more about IBM Cloud Video.

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