Challenges: Content providers and the rise of mobile video


By Jonathan Smith, managing director EMEA, Limelight Networks

In recent years, we have seen a fundamental shift in viewing habits of consumers, with online video emerging as the most popular type of content. The rapid rise in mobile device ownership and the sheer number of different devices that are available on the market has contributed to this as consumers have new ways to access content. There’s no doubt that this trend is set to continue; as our State of Online Video Report confirms, over half of respondents say that they watch over two hours of online video every week.

This shift to mobile video presents some important challenges for content providers. Performance is, of course, critical; viewers expect to be able to watch video without any buffering or irritating delays. Over half of consumers think that buffering is the most frustrating aspect of watching online video, and 46% will stop watching a video if it stops to buffer twice. This shoots up to 80% when a video buffers three times.

Viewers expect things to happen instantaneously. If a site fails to deliver a quality experience every time, then viewers will go elsewhere, leading to high bounce rates. Content providers must deliver videos of broadcast quality, so websites must be equipped with the technology to ensure a consistent performance and reduce latency. Indeed, Gomez found that during peak traffic times, more than 75% of online consumers left for a rival’s site rather than suffer delays.

Scalable content

As audiences become increasingly dispersed across the globe, another key challenge for content providers breaking into mobile video is to make sure that their content is scalable. This will ensure that customers everywhere will enjoy the same quality of experience, regardless of where they are accessing content from.

A third critical challenge is for content providers to deal with surges in demand;  this is especially relevant for sports video streaming, where major tournaments can cause a sudden spike in viewer traffic. Without the proper infrastructure in place, the upsurge in demand can result in latency and ultimately push viewers to access content elsewhere.

To prevent frustrating customers with the issues outlined above, content providers need to work with the right content delivery network (CDN). This is vital to ensure that mobile video viewers get a great experience, anywhere, anytime, using any device. CDNs can offer critical support in a number of ways. By offering global scale, the right CDN can ensure that high surges in traffic do not cause problems such as latency and poor performance. It can also proactively monitor and gather intelligent data on viewers habits; this is key to addressing problems as soon as they arise. For example, if users are struggling to interact with a feature on a page, perhaps a certain button does not function properly on certain types of devices, the CDN can flag this promptly and avoid loss of traffic as a result.

Access from anywhere

The rise in demand for mobile video is global, so content providers need to make sure that they provide a great viewer experience, wherever their content is being accessed from. To reach an international demographic, they must work with a global CDN that has the architecture and storage capabilities to deliver content at broadcast quality across the world.

In addition to the trend for viewing videos via mobile devices, a growing trend is multiscreen viewing; this can refer to different screens linked together to form one image, often seen at conferences or in stores. It can also refer to the use of multiple screens at once to accomplish two different things, for example, a sports fan may use one screen to watch a game and another to live-tweet as they watch the game. In both cases, the quality of experience depends on timing; there must not be any lags in delivering the content. Using the right CDN will be critical in ensuring that content plays smoothly without any delays so that nobody misses out on the action.

Limelight Networks is a content delivery network (CDN) service provider.


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