Sunday, December 22, 2013

Twitch.TV: New video system handles more traffic, but at a cost of latency

Twitch.TV admits their new system has more latency than what a lot of users are happy with.

About a week ago, viewers of Twitch.TV streams noticed something a bit different.  Live videos were buffering constantly, and the delay time between when users posted a message in a chat room about what they saw and when something actually happened was much longer.  A day later, Twitch announced that they had a new video system, which was designed to handle up to 15% more traffic than the older system could handle.  This of course was tested on broadcasts with a large amount of traffic (DreamHack Winter 2013).  While effective on high traffic, high quality streams, the way the new system delivers and buffers data has resulted in a very noticeable delay in the smaller, lower quality streams (according to the official blog, "ranging from 12-40 seconds").  For casters and viewers who are used to delay of less than 10 seconds and often interact directly with each other, the user experience has definitely taken a hit.  Originally some streams were almost unwatchable for some users due to constant buffering, but at least that issue was seemingly resolved within a few days.

Should Twitch have waited a bit longer to release the new system to all broadcasts?  Twitch does note that they are working on lowering the latency, but currently no details on how long this will take has been given.

It is questionable how these changes will affect other streaming services, including but not limited to, YouTube's current live streaming platform.

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