How Fast Internet Pipes Choke On Full HD Video

Just because your home or office has a fast Internet pipe doesn’t mean that you can watch full HD video content online. This is according to a new survey published in August by Wistia, a video hosting service based in San Francisco.

“Almost a fifth of all video views in the U.S. are not capable of seamlessly streaming HD content. These views are spread out across the nation and affect people in many different places, including businesses large and small. The Northeast of the United States has the best percentages for HD capable views as compared to the rest of the country, but still 10-20% of views in this region are not HD capable,” states the report.

Wistia hosts videos for tens of thousands of companies and records detailed analytics on how every viewer watches every video. Included in this data is the connection speed at which the end user is able to access content from multiple, global content delivery network partners. For this research, the company examined millions of video-viewing events over all types of business-related video content just for U.S.-based viewers.

The company analyzed the download speeds at 25 large organizations, as well as at its own office, and found that an average of a quarter of users aren’t capable of streaming HD video, with a range from 3% to 85%, depending on particular circumstances.

Wistia’s 13-person office is instructive. It has a 22-Mbps Internet connection, but rarely did anyone experience this level of bandwidth, and indeed, about seven percent of views were less than 2 Mbps needed to get the full HD quality. The actual speeds varied widely too. You can see the results from the other 25 organizations in the chart below.

Perhaps not surprisingly for anyone who has traveled lately, 60% of all hotels aren’t HD-capable.

Wistia concludes the report by saying, “Clearly, not all viewers will be able to seamlessly stream your videos in HD. Here at Wistia we try to remind content creators about the inherent tradeoff between video quality and video deliverability. The world’s best-looking video will not be seen by many viewers if it requires buffering. The data is this report simply attempts to put concrete numbers behind this trade off so all video creators can make informed decisions about their content.”

So if you are developing or posting video content, keep these suggestions from Wistia in mind:

  • Use bandwidth detection and automatic switching to match quality with speed capabilities;
  • At the very least, give viewers of the content the option to switch to lower quality content to avoid buffering;
  • YouTube has a capability to switch quality, but it’s not very obvious to many people, so set your videos to automatic switching when possible.

Related Links

Report: The State of HD Video Viewing in America []

Image: Broadcast tunnel by Bigstock

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