STUDY: Slow Buffering Movies Stress Us Out More Than the Suspense & Drama Themselves


It’s a paralyzing feeling. You’re all hyped up for the new season of House of Cards, you’ve carved out some time to watch the premiere on mobile during an extended lunch break but there’s a problem. The swirling circle of dread on screen that tells you Netflix is buffering your video. Is it Verizon’s fault? Is it Netflix’? Is this somehow Comcast’s fault!?! Now you’re completely stressed out and your extended lunch break won’t be enough time to see what happens to Frank and Claire Underwood in episode one.

In that moment, you feel like it’s the most stressful problem in your life (first world problems, of course). But how does that stress compare to other first world stresses you’re forced to endure? We dug through the data in a recent study that compared stress levels for various stimuli.

In the study, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of an operator increased significantly when associated with a delay-free experience – by 4.5 points. This finding was also reflected when measuring emotional engagement using a neuroscience-based motivational index.

Here’s a visual representation of the findings:


In other words a slow Netflix, Hulu or HBO Now streaming experience feels worse to the average user than:

  • Watching a Scary or Overly Dramatic Show
  • Waiting in Line at Walmart
  • Standing at the edge of a Virtual Reality cliff

So if you’re looking to reduce the stress in your life, avoid streaming on mobile unless your connection is rock solid. With Global mobile data traffic growing 65 percent between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015, we’re hoping that mobile carriers, Netflix and other streaming services figure out how to deliver a stress-free video streaming service sooner rather than later. Our emotional well being may depend on it.