Major Changes Coming To Twitch In Wake Of Rumoured YouTube Buyout

We don’t yet have an official acknowledgement of Youtube’s rumoured purchase of Twitch, but we’re already seeing a rapid shift in how Twitch goes about their business, which only lends credence to those rumours. Via their official blog, Twitch announced some significant changes to their service that are taking effect very soon.

For starters, justin.tv is shutting down. You might remember that Twitch began as the video game arm of justin.tv, but it became so big that it not only outgrew the main site, it has now outlived it as well. Those who still have accounts on justin.tv are being told to migrate them to Twitch, but since Twitch is really only for video games, anyone who was broadcasting anything other than games will probably have to turn somewhere else for their streaming needs.

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Next, previous Twitch broadcasts will no longer be saved indefinitely if a highlight is attached to it, and any past broadcast that’s currently archived ‘forever’ will risk being deleted in a few weeks. Instead, Twitch is now offering storage of any video length for 14 days for regular users, while subscribers to their turbo service and members of the Twitch partner program will both get 60 days. Twitch is also offering two hour segments of highlights that can be saved indefinitely. These segments can be one stream that lasts for up to two hours, or two hours of edited footage, and all Twitch users are eligible for this indefinite storage.

Twitch Table

This certainly won’t go over well with the really big channels but to be fair, Twitch did at least try to defend their decision. According to a simple chart posted on their blog, over 80% of the footage they’re currently storing is past broadcasts that are never watched, and over 84% of total views happen within the first 14 days of a video being broadcast. Twitch also claims that highlight videos bring in nine times the number of views when compared to full-length past broadcasts.

So how do you keep from losing your past broadcasts and why are they doing this? Twitch now has a new video manager that will allow you to export videos of any length to YouTube, which can be seen just below. As for the ‘why’, Twitch says these moves are necessary not just to save server space, but to add new features that have been requested by the community. These features include increasing the VOD quality for international users, adding the ability to watch VOD on any device (including mobile), more secure broadcast storage with triple redundancy, and an easier way to export videos to YouTube. Twitch also said this helps them with “conceptualizing new features like DVR, matching quality options from live to VOD, and better VOD discovery.”

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of their announcements. They made a separate blog post detailing a system very similar to YouTube’s Content ID, that will ensure unauthorized third-party audio is not stored on Twitch. They’re even using the same service YouTube utilizes, Audible Magic, which will scan thirty minute segments of archived content to search for both in-game and ambient audio for copyright infringement.

If unauthorized audio is discovered, the entire thirty minute block of video will be muted, a message will appear on screen that notifies the viewer of the “flagged content”, and all volume control options will be removed until the thirty minute segment has ended. What’s worse is that once the thirty minute block of audio is removed, it can’t be recovered and will remain muted even when exporting. The only silver lining to this announcement is that Twitch won’t be scanning live broadcasts for this content, but rather video that is stored on their servers after the broadcast has ended.


In case we lost you in the sea of changes above, here’s the big stuff:

  • Justin.tv is shutting down, and all users are being asked to migrate their content to Twitch
  • Twitch users will no longer be allowed to save broadcasts that last longer than two hours forever, but turbo subscribers and those in the Twitch partner program can still save them for up to 60 days (14 days for normal users)
  • Highlights videos of up to two hours can be saved forever by any Twitch user
  • A content ID system similar to what YouTube uses is being implemented to scan for “unauthorized audio” and mute thirty minute segments of archived clips if any is discovered (live broadcasts won’t be scanned)

If you stream on Twitch, we’d love to hear what you think of these changes, and if you feel the features being added come anywhere close to making up for the time-limited storage and the implementation of a content ID system.

Source: Twitch 1, 2

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24 Comments

  1. Well colour me surprised…….

  2. I hate how Google’s turned to buying out their biggest competition instead of building their own services. They’ve grown too big.

    • Pretty much all big businesses do this though, not just Google.

      • Of course, but that doesn’t make it any better. Particularly when it’s daily-use services, and the end result is a negative for users.

    • And when I think how I idolised them when I was young, what a great success story Google was and multiple times voted the best company to work for. I am ashamed of myself now.

  3. Google continuing their proud tradition of ruining everything they buy then.

  4. Im suprised anyone at all uses twitch. The only time i have used it is on the PS4 and the quality is shockingly bad, its un-watchable.

    • And these changes will improve that

    • I do tend to watch the occasional video stream and have not noticed any poor feeds. What is your connection like?

      • 40 MB down and 12MB up. Do you watch on the PS4?

    • Prior to 1.70, I think it was, the PS4 actually streamed to Twitch at less than 720p. If you’re using that as your basis, then yeah, the quality wasn’t going to be great. However, you can actually get some pretty good quality on Twitch, as long as the settings are right on both ends.

      • Agreed. My streaming of 720p (from my PC) to Twitch has been very good. A few TSA folk mentioned how good it looked. However, if their buyout means 1080p then I’m all for that. Also, the storage required for so many unwatched clips must be insane and I definitely support them addressing that. Utter waste of space.

      • I wonder how this will affect the relationship with Sony, because they made good marketing for Twitch going with them at the PS4 launch.

  5. Apparently the system has already muted one of Twitch’s own videos, and has also muted some of Valve’s Dota 2 International matches for having music belonging to Valve. It definitely doesn’t sound like it’s had the smoothest of launches!

    • That made me genuinely lol.

    • Sounds like Deja Vu – exactly like when Google opened the flood gates with it’s Content ID system earlier this year on Youtube

  6. Pretty reasonable stuff really. Did you really think Google would have opened themselves to to lawsuits by allowing copyrighted music on gaming footage.

    It’s sad that the world doesn’t understand ownership of content and copyright, and just thinks everything should be free to copy…

    • Ownership of content and copyright are both fine, but what we’re seeing with Content ID is that an automated system cannot reliably and accurately determine this. It’s overzealous by design, and this actively harms the system as a whole.

      • Especially when game devs and publishers have given their consent to use their content for Let’s Play, Walkthrough videos, etc.

  7. So if someone was playing a game with published music in it like GTA5 would it now get muted? Sounds like a terribly flawed and ott system. Do they really think instead of buying a song they’d listen to it being on in the background on a twitch stream?

    • Agreed, fella.

      The fact that someone’s driving like a loony whilst innocent Hispanic motorists are shouting “puta madre!” at you as you side-swipe their vehicle, zooming away from the local filth is lunacy. I’d totally wait for things to quieten down and THEN listen to an assortment of tracks I had no intention of buying anyway. :D

    • It is horribly flawed in that regard, even when music is licensed for use in the game and the music is being played correct within the game and thus within the terms of the license granted to the developers, it will basically flag it, as the automation will in no way tie into account the context under which the music is being played.

      I wonder how it would work if you had classical music in the background, or music that has gone public domain or where copyright is now defunct….

  8. The Bibissmen strike again.

  9. This is definitely the legal tail wagging the dog. It does Google or Twitch no good to alienate users but they don’t want to be targets of every infringement lawsuit. While the systems are overzealous they can at least show they are trying and shift some of the liability to another entity.

    As for setting limits on video retention, it makes sense especially if think of Twitch as the broadcast medium and You Tube as the longer term storage.

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