You may have noticed some changes with Twitch lately. This update is a double-edged sword that may put some viewers and broadcasters on one side of the fence or the other. Twitch began rolling out its new unified video system across all platforms recently, and reactions aren’t all positive. The goal behind the new system is to improve the video quality of non-partnered streams, and eliminate choppy streams on the viewer’s end. The new system is designed to buffer a stream instead of constantly serving up choppy video. The problem with this new system is it introduces an increased delay between the broadcaster and the viewer.
I’ll give you an example that I personally experienced. I ran a test stream of Dead Rising 3 a little over a week ago. The delay between what I saw on my television and the stream was a few seconds. That’s normal and wasn’t an issue. When I did another test stream on Friday of Peggle 2, the delay time had increased to around 12 seconds. I initially thought it was my internet connection until I read Twitch’s blog post.
An excerpt from it reads,”With the initial release of the unified video system, we’ve increased the latency by multiple seconds to make sure that we’re delivering smooth video.”
Being able to watch a stream in the highest quality is important, but the long delay between the broadcaster and his/her chat is bad for interactivity. When you watch a broadcast now, you’re actually watching something that happened several seconds ago. In some cases, the delay is said to reach 30 seconds. A lot of chat comments are based on what the audience sees in real-time. Suggestions, questions and observations made by the community are now somewhat irrelevant by the time the broadcaster sees them. It hurts the flow of conversation that made chat interaction so important to begin with.
I think the new video system mostly benefits large eSports streams that enjoy high viewer counts and sponsors. After all, if everyone can watch a tournament in high quality, they’re most likely to stick around longer. They might even decide to drop some cash on a Turbo subscription for Twitch. A delay in the stream isn’t going to matter nearly as much in this case because no one is really monitoring and interacting with the chat during large events.
Twitch says it’ll work to decrease the delay as the months go on. It’s understandable that with new technology, there will be some things that will take a hit. I just hope that Twitch doesn’t decide such long delays are acceptable in the grand scheme of things.
Source [Twitch Blog]