Recently, Digital Trends reported that “51 percent of consumers who watch online or streaming video have been frustrated to the point of rage as a result of buffering.” I managed to make it through a whole season of Jessica Jones in one day, so it's not surprising to me that the slightest hiccup in streaming can make a typical viewer’s blood run hot.
However, as a person who works to deliver secure streaming video, I don’t have quite as much sympathy for the buffer sufferers as the average binge watcher or corporate user. In my experience on the support side, issues with the viewing experience are heavily influenced by what is occurring on the viewer-side -- not the OTT provider. Buffering, specifically, is directly related to a specific watching environment that in many cases is adjustable and within the viewer's controls.
Below are some ways viewers can concoct home or office remedies for buffering issues that don’t require teams of engineers to develop product around a problem that has several self-prescriptive solutions as the first line of defense.
1. Focus Your Bandwidth's Attention
Bandwidth is a finite pipe in which information can transfer through. If you’re a “tab hoarder,” consider closing your browser(s) leaving only one with the video you plan to watch. This can help open up available bandwidth and improve your viewing experience.
2. Check Wi-Fi
Wi-fi strength ebbs and flows. Certain days you may have 5 bars, other days 2 bars will tease you to the point of insanity. When this occurs, video watching is much more difficult and frustrating. If you have multiple Wi-Fi networks, try switching between them and choose the best performing one at the time. If you have one network, moving closer to your router can help improve your signal. Repositioning your router altogether can also work wonders on performance.3. Hard Wire
Hardwiring in a wireless world may seem counter intuitive, but in terms of improving your online viewing experience the old way can sometimes be the best way. Hardwiring allows data to transfer faster. So locate those clunky ethernet cables, strap in and enjoy the smoother ride.
4. Upgrade Internet Package
Many times, ISPs throttle your mobile data or internet connection based on behavior (excessive download, etc). Although you can’t change this specific tactic, you can buy internet that is faster, less constrictive about online activity and can take a beating from multiple household users.
5. Switch to SD playback
Youtube, vimeo and other video streaming services offer the ability to adapt playback based on existing conditions. Some are automatically initiated but others may need tweaking on the consumer’s side. If available, adjust your playback quality to reduce the possibility of buffering (caution: may degrade overall quality of video).
6. Contact IT
If you're in a corporate environment, many of the above remedies still apply to you. In addition to the ideas listed above, consider reaching out to your IT department before contacting a 3rd party support team. They'll have the inside scoop on what is occurring on your network, including down times, and can offer up solutions you may not have thought of to improve your viewing experience.
Although these remedies aren't foolproof, they can help alleviate some of the symptoms of so-called buffer rage.