20% Of the U.S. Can’t Watch Online Video in HD

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The FCC recently released a broadband deployment map that revealed that barely half of American households have Internet connections fast enough to stream Netflix.

Eye-opening stuff — but the FCC map only tells part of the story. Most of its data comes from theoretical speeds, not what users actually experience.

That’s why video host Wistia compiled its own comprehensive report of how download speeds are dispersed across the United States.

Using data from 500 million viewing sessions across the U.S., Wistia put together a viewing report that gives a little more color to the status of connection speeds and the ability to stream content in the U.S..

You can download the entire report here, but here are some highlights:

  • 20% of all views in the U.S. are unable to seamlessly stream HD content

  • Hotel Internet connections fail to stream in HD 61% of the time

  • The 25 well-established companies examined in the study were only able to seamlessly stream HD video 25% of the time

  • The Northeast had the best percentages HD-capable views

Growing Importance of Broadband Infrastructure

As more video content moves to the web — with content providers and cable companies embracing TV Everywhere and increased experimentation with over-the-top (OTT) delivery, it’s important for content creators to recognize the capabilities of the audience.

Looking at Wistia’s data, one can’t help but be struck by the fact that even if most video content was able to be distributed online, the video quality for many users would be below what they currently get on antenna, satellite or cable broadcasts.

One of the promises of 4G LTE networks is that it can bring broadband to areas currently underserved by cable and DSL and without access to fiber. Google, Time Warner and Verizon are all investing in building out Gigabit fiber networks, but it will take years for the penetration to reach larger metropolitan cities — let alone smaller enclaves.

We expect to continue to see more investments in this space, especially as users increasingly access video content through web-connected devices.

Do You Tune Out When Online Content Buffers?

A study from 2009 indicated that 80% of users stop viewing a video or live stream if they encounter a buffer.

Anecdotally, that makes sense — I know I’m quick to flick to a different YouTube video if the buffer is too harsh — but given the growing prevalence of online video over the last three years — not to mention the increased access on mobile devices — we’re curious if that’s still the case.

So let us know — do you stop watching a video if you get delayed with buffers?

Also, how important is having a fast Internet connection to you? Let us know in the comments.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/07/wistia-hd-video-report/

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