Video Hosting & Viewer Behavior

“What we found was that people are pretty patient for up to 2 seconds.”
– Ramesh K. Sitaraman (University of Massachusetts, Amherst & Akamai Technologies)

After putting the time, consideration and money into creating a great, new video for your website, you feel relieved to have the project completed. However, it’s important to consider how you will present your new video to your audience. It is critical that you host your video properly. A huge factor in the success of your video is making sure it starts promptly and doesn’t falter or freeze. Most viewers will simply give up and move on if your video constantly needs to stop and re-buffer.

On January 10th, 2013, NPR’s Morning Edition profiled the importance of video hosting in a piece called, “In Video-Streaming Rat Race, Fast Is Never Fast Enough.”They highlighted a study that demonstrates a clear correlation between the quality of video hosting and viewer behavior.

The study, authored by S. Shunmuga Krishnan (Akamai Technologies) and Ramesh K. Sitaraman (University of Massachusetts, Amherst & Akamai Technologies), is called “Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior: Inferring Causality Using Quasi-Experimental Designs.” Krishnan and Sitaraman looked at data from Akamai’s streaming network and studied 23 million views from 6.7 million unique viewers.

The Results

  • Viewers start to abandon the video if it takes longer than 2 seconds to start
  • If a video takes 5 seconds to load, more than 20% of viewers abandon it
  • If a video takes 10 seconds to load, about 50% of viewers abandon it
  • Viewers who experiences a failure to watch a video is less likely to revisit the same site
  • A viewer who experiences re-buffer delay (stuttering) plays significantly less of the video than viewers who don’t experience re-buffering delay.

As video consumers, we already know this. However, we have a tendency to forget how important that is when it comes time to host our videos. This study gives us definitive proof on something we really already knew: it is critical to host your videos on a good hosting site.

Solving the Problem

You should host your videos on an external site dedicated to video hosting and then embed them in your website. Don’t think you need to host your videos on your website.


YouTube continues to evolve and get better and that’s good for your business. There are two primary reasons to use YouTube. First, is to host videos for embedding in your website, posting to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Second, is to receive the benefits of search engine optimization from hosting your business videos on the Google-owned YouTube.

YouTube is an especially great option because it’s free, has a pleasant user-interface, good playback quality and decent analytics. One caveat, however, is that on YouTube, videos are limited to 15 minutes. If you’re looking to host longer videos (seminars and presentations, for example), YouTube won’t work for you.


Vimeo has historically been focused more towards independent filmmakers, but has now developed into a community for video hosting of all sorts. With their “Basic” account, which is free, you can upload up to 500MB a week (which is limiting) and it comes with banner ads, restricted settings and few analytics. For $59.95 a year, you can upgrade to “Vimeo Plus”. With “Plus”, you get 5GB of uploads a week, no banner ads, priority uploading, advanced customization and statistics. “Plus” is also great if privacy is important to you, as there are more options around who can view, find or embed you video.


Wistia is a great solution in two situations. First, if you only have a couple videos, Wistia has a free option. You can host up to three videos for free AND you still get all the Wistia features. Those features are the second reason to consider Wistia: basically it’s about great analytics, including something they call the ‘heat map’, which measures second-by-second viewer engagement.

If you have more than three videos, Wistia has a 6-video option ($23/month, which we think is on the high side for just 6 videos) and another option for unlimited videos ($79/month, which includes 200GB bandwidth per month, which should be plenty for most small businesses).

And – if you’re planning a video production in the Dallas area, click on the Contact Us tab in the menu bar to connect with us. We’d love to discuss your video project with you!

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