In its newest Latin America Streaming Behavior Survey, the consultancy firm unveils the biggest trends among OTT users in the region and what their main demands are for service providers: mobile apps, downloadable content, good user interface and ads that represent them.

OTT video is gaining serious steam in Latin America, as more viewers across the region cut the cord and watch online streaming video for their entertainment needs. In this context, the growth of OTT continued in 2020, and the Coronavirus pandemic helped the shift to online video happen even faster in Latin America.

“Growing popularity in the region will mean increasing competition, and understanding viewer behavior is crucial to success”, says the new Latin America Streaming Behavior Survey by Penthera, conducted across key markets such as Mexico, Brasil, Colombia, and Argentina to dissect users’ preferences and behaviors towards online video in the region.

How viewers feel about streaming

Most Latin American viewers watch across multiple devices, but mobile is the most used video platform across all the countries we surveyed. 90% of viewers use their smartphones and tablets to watch, ahead of both Connected TV (70%), and PC (65%). Companies that don’t consider the mobile experience could fall back to those that prioritize that experience.

In fact, over half of our panelists (56%) said they prefer viewing video on mobile devices over other devices. Younger generations have the highest preference for mobile platforms, with 70% of 18-24 panelists reporting that they prefer mobile. This preference is reflected in time spent as well: Latin Americans are spending most of their time watching mobile video (44%) compared to ConnectedTV (31%), and PC (26%).

Even though mobile phones allow for content to be taken anywhere, viewers still enjoy watching video content on their phones and tablets while in their homes. In fact, 93% of our panelists said they stream mobile video at home, while 28% watch on mobile when they commute and 24% watch when they’re out and about.

That explains why, when deciding on a subscription video service, the top factor to Latin American viewers is having a mobile app. 40% of our panelists said it’s the most important consideration, ahead of ease of use (15%) and availability of movies and shows they like (12%). Further, 83% said they expect a service to offer download functionality and 70% would even pay extra for downloadable content. Ultimately, OTT providers need to consider all the platforms that viewers watch video on and how accessible that content is.

Streaming Frustrations in Latin America

Streaming frustrations are high in Latin America, and our survey reveals a direct connection between poor experiences and issues like stream abandonment and churn. 92% of our panelists say they have encountered problems when watching. The most common issue is re-buffering and 58% say they’ve been frustrated by it, followed by the video taking too long to start-up (52%), and the ads stalling (40%).

When they encounter re-buffering, Latin American viewers are likely to abandon the stream. 43% of Latin American panelists say they wait 2 buffers before they leave the stream—38% say they wait only 1 buffer before they leave the stream. This high rate of abandonment demonstrates the need for video providers in the region to ensure their viewers have a smooth experience.

Yet currently, Latin American viewers are experiencing frequent delays and interruptions, especially on their preferred viewing device, mobile. 29% of our panelists said they wait between 8-10 seconds for their videos to load on mobile on average, and a different 29% said they are waiting even longer. This likely explains who so many viewers in our survey said they’d pay extra for downloadable content, which removes these startup delays and other issues like re-buffering.

In addition to experiential issues, Latin American viewers care a lot about cost. When asked their primary reason for cancelling a subscription to a video service, 53% cited cost. Secondary reasons included a service not having enough of their favorite movies and episodes (47%), lack of programming (32%), and finding another video provider they liked better (30%).

Latin American Users and AVOD

Viewers around the world appreciate being able to access video content for free or at a reduced cost, in exchange for watching ads, and Latin America is no exception. Yet, our panelists expressed unique frustrations with the video ad experience.

Latin American viewers in our survey said the most frustrating ad experience is when the same ad repeats, with 59% citing it as a pain point. Other frustration included being served too many ads (45%) and the ad not playing or buffering (32%). For providers of ad-supported video on demand, these issues highlight the importance of creating not only a good viewing experience, but an ad experience that matches.

Further, another enormous issue faced by viewers of ad-supported video in Latin America is ad relevance. A large majority (70%) of our panelists said they don’t feel represented in ads. Common issues are that products being sold often aren’t local and ads are sometimes just a translated version of its English counterpart.

If ad viewers don’t connect with the ads they see, then advertisers are wasting their money in the region and missing a huge opportunity to connect with engaged viewers.

In conclusion

Streaming video is seeing a massive surge in Latin America. Though limited access to broadband internet has been a hurdle in the past, the last few years have seen much improvement and as a consequence, OTT adoption has grown. Cord cutting is increasingly popular, and OTTs in the region are seeing growth of new users and time spent viewing.

The adoption of streaming video is especially high on mobile devices. Viewers in Latin America are not only watching on their phones in high numbers, but more than half say they prefer to watch on mobile over computers or connected TVs. No matter what device type they’re watching on, though, viewers expect a smooth experience.

Ensuring a good experience can be difficult when many factors are outside of your control, including issues that occur in the last mile of video delivery. Yet technology that can solve these issues, whether download or other enhanced streaming features, can help providers take control and let their viewers watch without frustrating. Those that do will get an edge over the growing OTT competition in Latin America and across the globe.