Competition in the video streaming market is fierce—there are more choices from paid and free streaming models than ever. As a result, every over-the-top (OTT) platform is adapting its strategies to optimize monetization and increase viewership.
However, video content owners and distributors also need additional strategic metrics to understand content engagement, manage revenue streams, and identify new business opportunities.
In this guide, we explore the essential key performance indicators (KPIs) that content owners should track to identify areas of improvement and opportunities for growth. We’ll also share the significance of these KPIs and offer practical solutions to boost performance and your bottom line.
KPI #1: Churn Rate
The churn rate for your OTT platform indicates how many users or subscribers discontinue using your service. Factors affecting churn largely include user experience, pricing, content selection, streaming quality, and customer service.
By the end of 2021, the average monthly churn reached 5.2% for streaming video services. Fast forward to a survey in May 2023, and 37% of OTT platform subscribers in the U.S. said they canceled a subscription in the last six months. Churn rates are even higher among Gen Z and millennials.
You can reduce churn by rectifying poor performance in all of the above KPIs. In addition, consider how well your content aligns with your target market. Launch targeted engagement campaigns and personalize recommendations for your viewers.
KPI #2: Viewer Engagement and Retention
Engagement metrics provide a way to measure how effective your content and engagement strategies are. Here are some key metrics to consider:
- Average viewing time indicates the mean time users spend watching your content.
- Watch time is the total amount of time that users have watched a piece of content.
- View count is the sum number of people who have viewed your content, which can be measured in various ways depending on the platform.
- Content consumption patterns include viewing behaviors such as how often viewers watch, which devices they use, when they watch, and whether they watch in increments or binge-watch.
These metrics will help you identify the most engaging content types and popular viewing times, as well as where users lose interest. With this information, you can make data-driven decisions regarding which content to promote and when to optimize monetization through advertising. You can also structure programmatic formats strategically to increase viewer engagement and retention.
KPI #3: Video Start Failures
You’ll have a significant problem retaining viewers if they can’t watch your content to begin with. Video start failures (VSF) occur when a video fails to load or play properly at the very first frame.
VSF can be caused by various factors, such as network issues, compatibility problems, or software glitches. Because every start failure is a potential loss for your OTT platform, you want to keep it at a minimum. Use these content pre-loading techniques to help prevent VSF:
- Caching: Storing frequently accessed content closer to the user reduces latency and improves loading time.
- Pre-fetching: Anticipate user needs and proactively fetch content in the background before they request it.
- Progressive Loading: Load content incrementally, starting with essential components and buffering additional data as the video progresses.
- Predictive Analytics: Utilize user data and viewing patterns to anticipate content preferences.
KPI #4: Video Rebuffering Rate
Rebuffering refers to any time video content should be playing but isn’t. Instead, the viewer is left waiting for the video to resume. Frequent rebuffering significantly hinders the user experience and is a quick way to lose viewers and subscribers.
Consider content owners and distributors that rely on live events, such as sports streaming services. Viewers aren’t likely to stay around if they’re constantly waiting for your video to load—and missing all the action in the process.
Your OTT platform should aim for a rebuffer rate below 1%. A rate between 1% and 3% is considered acceptable, but anything over 3% should concern your team. To calculate this percentage, divide the total video rebuffering time by the total video viewing time (including rebuffering time).
There are a few ways to reduce rebuffering:
- Use adaptive bitrate streaming technology to optimize the video quality according to the viewer’s internet connection. This technology adapts the video resolution and bitrate in real-time to ensure uninterrupted, smooth playback and an improved user experience.
- Optimize the content delivery network (CDN) configuration. CDNs play a vital role in the efficient delivery of video content by caching and distributing it across multiple servers in different regions. Properly configured CDNs will reduce latency and improve server response times.
KPI #5: Playback Success Rate
The playback success rate measures how often users watch videos without encountering any playback issues or errors. For instance, video playback errors occur when a video stops playing unexpectedly. This can be caused by file corruption, streaming disruption due to poor digital rights management, or ineffective streaming resources. When videos fail to play, viewers switch to other content or to a different streaming platform altogether.
You can improve the playback success rate for your OTT platform through media asset optimization and server capacity planning:
- Media asset optimization involves delivering your streaming video content with the smallest possible file size without affecting visual quality.
- Server capacity planning involves estimating the amount of computing resources needed to support the expected user demand on an OTT platform. Analyze historical data, forecast future growth, and consider factors like peak usage times and concurrent user connections.
By effectively planning server capacity, you can facilitate uninterrupted video streaming and prevent slow loading times. This process typically involves scaling up server resources, optimizing network bandwidth, and implementing load-balancing techniques.
KPI #6: Average Bitrate
The average video bitrate refers to the amount of data transferred per unit of time when streaming or downloading a video file. It’s measured in megabits per second (Mbps).
The video bitrate affects the quality of the video playback. While higher bitrates generally result in better video quality, they require more bandwidth. This, in turn, can slow down loading time. Lower bitrates may lead to reduced video quality but require less bandwidth to stream or download the video.
Finding the best bitrate is a balancing act. When determining the average video bitrate for a particular video, consider its resolution, frame rate, and compression algorithm.
- For 1080p videos (Full HD), work on an ideal bitrate range of 3,500 to 6,000 Kbps.
- Standard frame rates (30fps) perform best at the lower end of the range, 3,500 to 5,000 Kbps.
- For high frame rates (60fps), you can aim toward the higher end, 4,500 to 6,000 Kbps.
Adaptive streaming protocols can improve the average bitrate by providing the best video quality possible every time for every user.
Boost Your OTT Platform Performance With dotstudioPRO
Tracking KPIs is vital to assess the performance of your OTT platform and continuously identify areas for improvement as consumer trends shift. These metrics can help you make strategic decisions to attract and retain subscribers, deliver quality content, and improve the user experience.
From adapting to network speeds to ensuring your content works well on all devices, managing the technical challenges of these metrics is no small feat. Let an OTT distribution and monetization expert like dotstudioPRO do the heavy lifting. We’ll help you optimize the user experience from the start, build a solid reputation, and reduce user churn.
Contact us today to launch your DTC streaming network quickly and cost-effectively and stay competitive in today’s market.