The 5 QoE Metrics You Can’t Ignore:

Live streaming has emerged as a fascinating tool with many applications in business, entertainment, and social interactions. Its unprecedented ability to transcend geographical barriers and connect audiences in real-time has completely changed how content is delivered and consumed worldwide. 

But beyond the surface of live streaming's popularity lies a more intricate realm where the success of these streams depends not solely on the numbers, but on the seamless Quality of Experience (QoE) of viewers. Let's explore the top five metrics for comprehending the viewer's live streaming experience.

1. Average Watch Time and the Influence of EBVS (Exit Before Video Starts)

The first metric we will analyze is the Average Watch Time, which refers to the amount of time a viewer stays in the stream. This pertains to the QoE of the viewer because a higher average watch time usually indicates a higher QoE. 

So what does the metric of Exit Before Video Starts (EBVS) have to do with this? EBVS is a metric that tracks the percentage of users who leave the video page before the video starts playing. This is important because a high EBVS rate can indicate issues like slow loading times, obtrusive pre-roll ads, or other barriers that prevent viewers from even beginning to watch the stream which can drastically decrease the average watch time. 

The percentage of the percent of Average Watch Time can be calculated with the following formula:  

Percentage of Average Watch Time = Average Watch Time / Video Length 

For example, if your average watch time is 2 minutes and your video length is 10 minutes, then viewers are only watching 20% of your videos meaning that either there must be changes in content to engage viewers, or changes in the delivery so viewers can have a seamless experience. 

These metrics can be monitored in different ways. For instance, average watch time can be monitored through the analytics dashboard on your streaming platform, whereas the EBVS can usually be tracked through specialized analytics or platform-specific tools. In order to improve the initial QoE it is key to analyze these metrics and make the necessary adjustments. 

2. Buffering Ratio

Another metric that has to be taken into account is the buffering ratio, which refers to the amount of time a video is loading versus the actual watching time. To calculate the buffering ratio, you'll need to collect data on the total viewing time and the total buffering time during a streaming session. Here's how you can calculate the buffering ratio:

Buffering Ratio (BR) = (Buffering Time / Total Viewing Time) * 100

Here's an example: Suppose viewers spent 500 seconds watching the video and experienced 50 seconds of buffering during that time.

Total Viewing Time (VT) = 500 seconds

Total Buffering Time (BT) = 50 seconds

Buffering Ratio (BR) = (50 / 500) * 100 = 10%

In this example, the buffering ratio is 10%, which means viewers spent about 10% of their time waiting for buffering.

Keep in mind that the lower the buffering ratio, the better the streaming experience for your viewers. Frequent buffering can lead to a poor viewer experience, potentially causing viewer drop-off. In order to make the proper changes, make sure to check the analytics dashboard of your streaming service. 

3. Engagement Rate

One of the most well known metrics is the engagement rate, which has to do with the amount of likes, shares, comments, and reactions during the live stream. The higher the engagement rate, the more likely it is that the viewer finds the content enjoyable and valuable. In order to calculate the engagement rate you must  use the following formula: 

Engagement Rate (ER) = (Total Engagement / Total Viewers) * 100

Here's an example:

Suppose your live video stream had 1000 viewers, and during the stream, you received a total of 300 likes, 50 comments, and 20 shares.

Total Viewers (V) = 1000

Total Engagement (E) = 300 (likes) + 50 (comments) + 20 (shares) = 370

Engagement Rate (ER) = (370 / 1000) * 100 = 37%

In this example, the engagement rate is 37%, which means that, on average, each viewer engaged in some form of interaction or participation equivalent to 37% of the total viewership.

The overall goal is to have a video that the viewers feel is worth not only watching, but interacting with. To analyze the engagement rate you must review the number of interactions versus the total viewers in real-time.

4. Bitrate 

A crucial metric to take into account referring to QoS (Quality of Service) and QoE is bitrate. The bit rate directly correlates with video and audio quality and refers to the amount of data processed per unit of time in the video stream. An optimal bitrate ensures high-quality streaming without buffering. Lower bitrates can cause poor video quality, while an excessively high bitrate may lead to buffering; striking the right balance is essential for QoE.

You can calculate the bitrate using the formula:

Bitrate (kbps) = (Resolution Width × Resolution Height × Frame Rate × Bit Depth) / Compression Efficiency

-Resolution Width and Height are in pixels.

-Frame Rate is in frames per second.

-Bit Depth represents the number of bits used to represent each color channel (usually 8 bits).

-Compression Efficiency is a factor that depends on the encoding algorithm and settings.

 In order to monitor this metric you can check at your analytics dashboard and look for sudden drops or spikes in bitrate and adjust encoding settings accordingly.

5. Latency

Finally, the last metric we will explore is latency. Latency is the time it takes for a video frame to travel from the source to the viewer's device. Analyzing this metric is important because high latency can disrupt the real-time nature of live streams, causing delays between the broadcast and viewer reception, leading to a low QoE. To measure latency in real-world scenarios, you might need specialized tools that can capture and analyze the timing differences between the source and the viewer's experience. Latency metrics can be found in advanced analytics dashboards or specialized latency monitoring tools.

These five metrics offer valuable insights into the Quality of Experience and can make or break your live streaming game. Remember that these aren't just numbers; they're tools to help you refine your content and deliver a superior viewing experience. Moving forward, make sure to focus on these metrics as you work on improving your live streaming endeavors.