Twitch may be the fromage grand of the video game livestreaming world, but over the past year or so I’ve seen a fair few People In The Know switch away to new competitors like Hitbox.tv. One big complaint is that the delay between the game you broadcast and what Twitch viewers see grew too long, making chatting and interacting with viewers a nuisance – it’s hard to talk to anyone when replies come one minute later.
Well, Twitch aren’t quite going back to ye goode olde days, but they have now added a new tech option that they say “reduces delay on average by 33%.”
If you fancy fiddling with this beta setting, you’ll find it in your channel’s settings. How does it work? In the immortal words of Jennifer Aniston, here comes the science bit: “How have we reduced the delay? We’ve successfully cut the video segment size from four seconds to two seconds, which decreases the amount of video that is stored in the processing pipeline.”
However! This option is not without its drawbacks. Twitch explain:
“We’re releasing the reduced delay beta as an option to broadcasters because it does come at a small quality of service cost – particularly to viewers with poor internet connections. Some viewers may experience changes in playback, with shorter, more frequent buffering times. Because less video is queued on a viewer’s computer, they will be more susceptible to variations in download bandwidth, and may experience more interruptions in service while video buffers. Rather than require every channel to switch to the reduced delay option, we’re leaving it up to the broadcaster to decide what is best for his or her community.”
It’s a nice change, but probably not enough to make come back to Twitch. Their crackdown on music and wiping old videos still leave me with few fond thoughts for the service. No, when I finally get around to streaming again, I think it’ll be Hitbox for me.