The EBVS (Exit Before Video Start) video streaming metric is a measure of the number of playback attempts that terminated before the video started playing (the first frame of video being displayed). Importantly, if a fatal error is reported and the player exists before playback can start, then it is not considered as a case of EBVS.
In today’s highly competitive video streaming landscape, user experience, and engagement are paramount to the success of a streaming service.
One key performance indicator that can provide valuable insights into user experience and satisfaction is the Exit Before Video Start (EBVS) metric. This metric measures the percentage of playback attempts that ended before the video started playing back.
A high EBVS value can significantly affect streaming service providers, impacting user satisfaction, engagement, and revenue.
This technical article will discuss the importance of tracking the EBVS metric, the consequences of high EBVS values, and the mitigation techniques that can help reduce this metric and enhance the overall user experience.
What is EBVS?
As mentioned earlier, EBVS is a measure of the number of playback attempts that terminated before the video started playing (the first frame of video being displayed). What does this mean? Assume that the following steps took place –
- the user pressed the play button
- the video player began the process to play back the content (i.e., fetching the playlist/manifest, user authentication, DRM key exchange, etc.)
- the user exits the video player even before the first frame of video can be displayed
This scenario is called an EBVS or Exit Before Video Start.
However, if there is a fatal error (playback or crash, etc.) that occurs in the time period between the play button being pressed and the first frame of video being displayed, then it is counted as a Video Start Failure, and not an occurrence of EBVS. Hence, when looking at the data, it is important to separate occurrences of Video Start Failures and EBVS before reporting or doing a deep-dive.
Causes of EBVS
There are several reasons why EBVS can occur and in this section, let’s take a look at a few of these. It’s always good to use a reliable QoE analytics tool to track and conduct an “root cause analysis” into EBVS.
The predominant root cause of EBVS is that the Video Startup Time is too high.
Video Startup Time or Startup Delay is the time elapsed between the “play” button being pressed and the first frame of the video being displayed. If this is too high, then the user might get frustrated and exit the playback. The root causes of a high startup delay are typically –
- problems with the CDN leading to a lot of cache misses.
- errors in the manifest / playlist leading to playback problems
- if pre-roll ads are used, then delays in ad loading & playback are a contributing factor.
- networking issues leading to video segments not getting downloaded
- playback issues such as decoder failures, corrupted streams, etc.
It is important to use a high-quality QoE data tracking and analysis tool for getting to the heart of the EBVS issue. Go here for a deeper understanding of video startup time.
Importance of Tracking the EBVS Metric
The EBVS metric is essential to evaluating user experience and satisfaction in video streaming services.
Service providers can gain insights into potential issues or bottlenecks preventing users from engaging with their content by tracking the percentage of users who exit a video before it starts.
Additionally, the EBVS metric can help streaming services identify trends, patterns, or correlations with other performance indicators or user segments, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and optimizations to improve the overall user experience.
Consequences of a High EBVS Value
A high EBVS value can negatively affect video streaming services, their users, and their businesses.
Reduced User Satisfaction
Users who frequently encounter delays or issues with video start times will likely become frustrated and dissatisfied with the streaming service, which may impact their overall perception of the platform’s quality and reliability.
Users who exit a video before it starts are less likely to explore other content or continue using the service. This can result in reduced engagement, lower consumption metrics, and increased churn rates.
Negative Impact on Revenue
Reduced user satisfaction and engagement can negatively impact a streaming service’s revenue from subscription fees and advertising. A high EBVS value may deter potential new users from joining the platform, further impacting revenue growth.
How to Reduce EBVS Value
To reduce the EBVS value and enhance the overall user experience, streaming service providers can implement several mitigation techniques:
Improve Content Delivery Infrastructure to Optimize Video Startup Time
Minimizing the time for a video to start is crucial in reducing the EBVS value. This can be achieved by optimizing content delivery, using efficient ABR algorithms, and utilizing efficient video codecs. For more ideas, please visit our in-depth article on startup time and ways to tackle it.
Ensuring the content delivery infrastructure is highly scalable, reliable, and robust is essential for minimizing delays and disruptions in video start times. A content provider should monitor CDN performance, test the response times of login, authentication sub-systems, and DRM server response times, establish redundant delivery paths, and consider implementing multi-CDN strategies.
Finally, if you use pre-roll ads, you must ensure the ad server is highly responsive and loads almost immediately when the user presses play. There is nothing worse than experiencing startup delays or buffering in ads!
Preloading of Video and Audio Resources
Intelligent preloading of video content, based on user behavior patterns or predictive analytics, can help to reduce video start times and minimize the likelihood of users exiting before the video starts.
Optimize Video Encoding
Efficiently encoding video files can help to reduce video start times and improve overall playback performance. By reducing the size of the video segments via highly efficient video codecs (HEVC, AV1, VP9), service providers can ensure that segments are downloaded quickly in low bandwidth regions and reduce EBVS.
Enhance user interface and user experience (UI/UX)
A well-designed and intuitive user interface can help to mitigate user frustration and reduce the likelihood of users exiting before the video starts. Providers should focus on creating a seamless browsing experience, offering accurate content recommendations, and ensuring that relevant information (e.g., video duration, title, and thumbnail) is readily accessible.
Optimize for different devices and network conditions
Users access streaming services through various devices and network conditions. Ensuring that the streaming experience (video delivery and user experience) is optimized for different devices (e.g., mobile, desktop, TV) and networks (e.g., cellular, Wi-Fi) can help to reduce video start times and improve user satisfaction.
For example, the ABR algorithm can be tweaked on a mobile phone running on a 4G network to pull the lowest bitrate first to ensure a small startup time and reduce the chances of EBVS.
In conclusion, the Exit Before Video Start (EBVS) metric is a crucial indicator of user experience and satisfaction in video streaming services. A high EBVS value can significantly affect user satisfaction, engagement, and revenue, making it essential for streaming service providers to track and address this metric.
By implementing targeted mitigation techniques, such as optimizing video start times, improving content delivery infrastructure, and enhancing the user interface, providers can reduce the EBVS value and create a more seamless and enjoyable streaming experience.
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar, Ph.D. is the Editor-in-Chief of OTTVerse, a news portal covering technological and business news in the OTT space. With extensive experience in video compression, ABR streaming, video analytics, monetization, and more, Krishna has held multiple roles in R&D, Engineering, and Product ownership at companies such as Harmonic Inc., MediaMelon, and Airtel Digital. Krishna has published numerous articles and research papers on the latest trends in OTT and frequently speaks at industry events to share his insights and perspectives on the fundamentals and the future of OTT streaming.