11 Jan What is the role of Quality of Experience in live events?
Media businesses and even content creators are facing increased demand to deliver high-video-quality experiences. As we said in other posts, as important is the content as the viewer´s experience when watching broadcasting channels.
And this pressure is even bigger when it comes to live streaming events, no matter the subject of the event: sports, concerts, awards ceremonies… Viewers of these events don’t want interruptions or other visualization issues, especially if they are watching the content through a content platform. All kinds of Broadcasting businesses must be aware that a bad live streaming experience can make or break customer loyalty and, for so, have a huge impact on economic results.
Perhaps because of that, the good news is that the quality of live streams is improving rapidly. In fact, “live streams now have better buffering, and video starts time metrics than any other on-demand video metrics” to control them and consequently serve the best viewer experience possible.
Size of events
Some time ago, when we talk about live events we tend to think about, for example, big sports events, such as a final match of a football competition or the closure ceremony of the Olympic Games. But, nowadays, creating new and exciting opportunities through event live streaming is not the only referral to large events. Live video streaming is a worthy investment for many types and sizes of events. In fact, there are a lot of organizations that run live events for different kinds of purposes: marketing, training, sales… For sure, you have attended small corporate events that may need to reach a broader audience and there were streamed.
In that situation, high-quality streams matter even to a higher degree. It is important to notice that, in pre-recorded videos we can cut and edit files, improving their quality. But in live streaming, we are not able to modify these parameters. Everything happens on the fly, so it is more relevant and important to test live streaming quality beforehand, making sure you’ll be able to host live stream events without a hitch.
The Quality of Experience (QoE) in live events impacts the overall attendee experience and engagement. And since live streaming quality is of first importance to the viewers, it should also be a priority to live streamers.
How to measure
As we have previously seen, the QoE quantifies either objectively the played video quality by quantitative metrics measurements or its subjective perception by the end-user. It has become a topic of interest for many actors in the content delivery value chain.
To truly see what’s going on and ensure a great QoE, businesses need observability across the streaming stack, integrated into one view – a single pane of glass from which you can monitor, identify visualization issues, and get more information to react faster during a live broadcast.
It is important to understand how the viewers’ QoE will shape what performance criteria are important to every business. For example: If we are broadcasting a live sports event with heavy social interaction, we should pay a lot of attention to time-behind-live latency. On other hand, a premium live event broadcast that has a subscription fee might require to focus on rebuffering and video quality.
In any case, and with the explosion of multimedia and audiovisual services, QoE becomes a hot topic for Content Providers, Content Delivery Networks, Content Platforms, and Network Operators to continue gaining users’ satisfaction by providing high-quality services and improve the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).
In a work done a few years ago, some researchers analyzed (HAL, Impacts of video Quality of Experience on User Engagement in a live event) the effect of QoE metrics (as the buffering ratio, video startup time, and average bitrate) on User Engagement for un/popular contents. The analysis was conducted during Roland Garros 2013 event.
One of the main conclusions is that the buffering ratio appears as a critical parameter that impacts the video play time whatever the content type. Additionally, the video bitrate is a critical parameter that impacts User Engagement up to a certain threshold in the case of popular content. However, video startup time is less significant until a certain level for popular content.
What this paper states is that analyzing QoE metrics and their impact on User Engagement is something complex as there are a lot of factors and conditions that play their role in the viewer’s experience and expectations. As the study shows, a correlation between QoE parameters and user engagement has been clearly observed. However, even if gigabytes of information were gathered and analyzed over thousands of clients, questions still reside. One among them is which factor is the most preponderant on User Engagement at which moment?
Quality of experience is key when it comes to streaming live events where every second matters. And there are hard lessons to be learned. It is not a good idea to serve a frozen feed or buffering video, because customers will not forget (and forgive) this experience. Because of that, measuring QoE in live events is critical to achieving our objectives and, for sure, the viewer’s expectations.