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Twitch email and push notifications are incredibly powerful tools for connecting broadcasters with their viewers. Yet, too many notifications can be overwhelming and lead to viewers opting out from receiving them completely.
That’s why we’re trying to be smarter about what notifications we send. One big change we made earlier this year was implementing an opt-in model for broadcasters you follow. Rather than having notifications turned on when you followed a broadcaster, we turned them off by default. When we looked at the data, we saw that sending you less notifications didn’t result in less content watched. Viewership remained the same.
Recently, we saw another opportunity to send you fewer emails and mobile alerts. We did a second experiment where we unsubscribed users from receiving notifications for channels they hadn’t watched in the last six months. Again, the data showed us that this change did not impact viewership. But, overall unsubscribes from notifications decreased by 20%, thereby protecting an important channel for broadcasters growing their audiences.
So, starting today, we’ll be rolling out these changes to everyone — inboxes throughout the land rejoice! If you’ve been receiving notifications for channels that you haven’t watched in a long time, you’ll get an email about channels you’ve been unsubscribed from and details about how to re-activate those notifications if you want. Have other questions? Check below for our FAQ.
Twitch Product Team
If you’re a Twitch user, you probably know that Twitch is a pretty big site that streams live video, but you may not have an idea of the sheer scale and complexity of all of the different moving parts needed to hold everything together.
Among other things, we have:
- One of the largest live video distribution systems in the world
- A real-time chat system
- Web services that provide access to functionality and data
- Data storage systems
- Client applications on the web, and on a multitude of platforms – mobile and console in particular
- Data science infrastructure
- Internal tooling and systems – configuration management, deployment systems, hardware and software provisioning, testing and QA
- Network infrastructure that keeps the bits between all of these systems and the end users flowing
Each of these different components of Twitch has different challenges that need to be tackled – among them low-level optimization of video encoding, large scale system scaling, implementing products across multiple platforms and form factors, and improving our engineering efficiency via improved tooling.
Slide into your friends’ DMs on the go with our first phase of whispers on your mobile device! Starting today, a small sample size of Android users will automatically gain access to our updated whispers functionality. We will continue to roll this out to more and more users until we have gathered enough feedback for a full launch. After we collect enough feedback from our Android users during this soft launch, we will follow things up by getting our iOS friends in on the fun.
If your device is selected, you will automatically be able to update the app to have access to the new functionality. Check back each day this week to see if you have access! Keep in mind that this feature is still in beta. Please submit all your feedback about our whispers update by filling out a feedback report.
Recently watched came up a couple of times in the past as a “nice to have” project, a.k.a. another one for the “maybe never” pile. After all, recency is everywhere. Netflix makes finishing all of House of Cards the default experience through recency. Sony sorts my game library by last played. I’ve been happily opening recent documents since Office 95. Recency can be built entirely client-side, so it’s way simpler and cheaper than most discovery improvements. But it wasn’t clear it’d be valuable for Twitch until I asked our data the right question. How much of our viewership is already on recently watched channels?
Recently watched channels get more viewership than all our existing discovery mechanisms! We launched recency experimentally and the treatment group watched 1.1% more minutes than the control group. Boom, one of Twitch’s most successful experiments ever! Twitch has moved the needle more with huge projects, like launching an iOS app. But we only get to do that once. I’m Danny Hernandez, a data scientist at Twitch, and this is the story of my biggest win in 2015.
Since our start, we’ve been hard at work connecting gamers around the world, and we continue to deliver on that mission. Today we’re excited to announce three new points of presence (POPs) in Asia, as well as the expansion of our event presence to more international gaming shows.
3 New POPs: Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea
After widening our presence and strengthening our quality of service in the US and Europe over the past few years, we made a concerted effort to provide the best Twitch experience to our many broadcasters and viewers in Asia. We’re proud to announce completion of three new POPs in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea!
This is in addition to recent upgrades in Europe (London, Frankfurt, Stockholm, and Amsterdam) and new or upgraded POPs in the U.S. (Seattle, Chicago, Miami, and San Jose, California).
Expanded International Event Presence
In addition to our continued presence at gamescom 2015 from Cologne, Germany, this year we’ll be dropping booths for the first time at PAX Australia, Electronic Game Show in Mexico, and Tokyo Game Show in Japan. All of these events will feature a stage for publishers and developers to showcase their games to audiences around the world and feature hosts from Twitch and the broader broadcasting community.
Twitch is the 4th largest stream of data on the internet.1)Study by Deepfield original published in Wall Street Journal (paywall :/). Gamespot syndicated article. Conclusion: People really like watching each other play video games.
I’ve always been curious about how people find content on Twitch, so I dug into the discovery process in aggregate. The most striking result I found is the terrible performance of sessions (See: Appendix) that start on offline channel pages. Broadcasters get almost nothing from a third of their hard earned direct traffic, because their channel is offline. If you follow a link to a Twitch channel, the broadcaster could easily be sleeping. In contrast Tweets provide a consistent destination; tweets are only offline if Twitter is down.
It’s no surprise, then, that “broadcast more” is one of our most common pieces of advice for growing your audience on Twitch. I recommend broadcasters take advantage of Host Mode 2)Host Mode release blog post. Drew Harry’s post on who hosts who. to keep their channel live. Part of my motivation for this post is that broadcasters cannot see the size of this problem from the dashboard.
References [ + ]
When we launched Host Mode in late July 2014, we weren’t sure how people would use the feature. The ability for broadcasters to choose to host another live channel when they weren’t broadcasting has lots of potential uses:
- A content recommendation system for broadcasters
- A cross-promotional tool for teams of broadcasters to direct their audience to a newly-live partner channel
- A way for people to create more intimate chat rooms to co-watch popular channels
- Or, something else entirely!
Now that Host Mode has been in the wild for some time, we wanted to share some insights about how it’s been used and the impact it’s having on the Twitch community. In particular, we wanted to explore one specific question: What kinds of channels are using Host Mode and who are they hosting?
Twitch has grown so quickly this year that it’s hard to keep track of all the amazing subgroups and communities that call Twitch home. To illustrate this, our Science team has recently been building visual maps of the Twitch world and we’re thrilled to share them with you!
NOTE: Visualization and layout were completed using an open source tool called Gephi. Click any image to enlarge.
In this map, each circle is a specific channel on Twitch. The lines between channels represent the amount of overlap between the audiences of those channels; each time a specific viewer watched two different channels during the time period this data draws from, it makes the connection between those channels a little stronger. Because we’re only drawing on a short time period in December, not all channels are represented here, and sizing only approximates activity in that time period.
Starting today, you can Follow Games on iOS and Android just like web.
Once you follow a game, you can access it from our revamped “Following” section. This new view has three parts:
- All your followed channels & games that are currently live.
- A listing of all your followed channels.
- A listing of all your followed games.
At any time, you can tap the heart icon on any game’s page to follow or unfollow it.
Notification Center Widget for iOS 8
For those running iOS 8, you have the option to install our widget for Notification Center. This lets you see what’s live — even from the lock screen. If you’re logged in, the widget will display top followed channels, and if you are not, it shows featured broadcasts.
Oh, wait. You’ve got an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus too? This update includes native support for your new device. The UI for iPhone 6 Plus now features three columns of games in the Directory, making it way easier to browse.
Broadcast Titles & More Shine for Android
Aside from Following Games, our Android update lets you see more info about the channels you like. The profile now includes bio info, number of followers, and total views. And, if you want to see titles for a specific broadcast, you can enable this feature app wide. Simply go to “Settings” and turn them on.
On October 22 at 8am PDT/11am EDT/4pm BST, we will perform site maintenance for approximately 5-15 minutes. During this maintenance window, note the following experience:
- If you’re already connected to the site and broadcasting or viewing, your experience should not be affected. However, navigating away from the page you’re on will result in seeing the maintenance page.
- If you’re not connected or attempt to navigate around the site, you’ll see the maintenance page. Connections include logins, broadcast attempts, and API requests.
We’ll send reminders before the maintenance at ~48 hours and ~24 hours, respectively. Follow @TwitchSupport on Twitter for the latest updates.
London POP Upgraded 1500%!
We’d like to take this chance to inform you that we’ve upgraded our London Point of Presence (POP) a full 1500% of previous capacity. (Yes, 1500%!) We hope you’ll set your phasers to fun and turn up your flux capacitors to 1.21 jigawatts.
Hey broadcasters and partners! Now that we’ve built out our internal statistics pipeline, broadcaster and partner dashboards will see some changes over the coming months. Next up for improvement are subscriber and per-broadcast stats, which will give the broadcaster (you!) more insight into how individual broadcasts are performing; we’ll be tracking when you change broadcast details and pairing up your stats with them.
Before we get to the improvements, we’ve moved over some resource-intensive charts to our internal stats system:
- Concurrent Viewers
- Max Concurrent Viewers
- Time Watched
- Time Broadcast
- Name, position, and when you started at Twitch.
Mike Perrone (Thrice in chat ^_^), Software Engineer Intern, started the beginning of the summer in May. Just recently, I’ve started working part time, remotely from college.
- Where were you prior to starting at Twitch?
I’ve been going to school at Worcester Polytechnic Institute as a Computer Science major, and last summer I was an intern at a Big Data healthcare startup, Kyruus, based out of Boston.
- When you’re not at the office, you’re…
…biking/jogging around the city, eating at one of the many delicious vegan restaurants in San Francisco, or more likely, I’m at my apartment watching Starcraft II on Twitch.
- Where did you hear about Twitch/your position at Twitch?
As announced 20 days ago, at 2pm PDT today, August 27th, the next steps in our VOD storage system will begin to take place.
Past broadcasts will begin to be removed from Twitch servers. This also marks the beginning of the new VOD storage system:
- Past broadcasts will now be saved for 14 days for all broadcasters,
- And 60 days for Twitch Turbo subscribers and members of the Twitch Partner Program.
If you would like to keep your past broadcasts, you can easily export them to YouTube or create highlights with our new Video Manager. Additionally, you can save locally right when you start broadcasting.
These changes take us one step closer to our ultimate goal: to deliver the highest quality video across multiple platforms.
Three weeks ago we launched the first version of Host Mode, then followed that up with an FAQ. You all very clearly asked: “How do I know know who is hosting my channel and how many viewers are they driving to my video?”
Today, we’re excited to announce an update that addresses these very issues. Host Mode now includes Broadcaster Notifications. When you’re broadcasting and someone begins to /host you, you’ll get a notification of who is hosting you and how many viewers they are driving to your video.
The notification will now appear in your Chat, so you and your viewers will know who is hosting you.
Hopefully this takes the guesswork out of the question: “Where did all these viewers come from?!”
But this is just the first step toward a more robust, informative Host Mode. Soon you will also get a notification in your Broadcaster Dashboard. Stay tuned for more exciting updates straight from your suggestions.
Over the last two days, you’ve provided us with an incredible amount of feedback about the new Video Manager, VOD storage, and Audio Recognition system. We take your opinions very seriously, and we’re acting on your concerns.
First, effective tonight, the maximum time limit on highlights will be removed. You will once again be able to create highlights of any length and they will be saved indefinitely.
Secondly, we’re deploying an “appeal” button for VODs that have been flagged for copyrighted music by the new Audio Recognition system. We recognize that the system is not yet perfect. We want to make this system as fair and unobtrusive as possible, and we greatly appreciate your help.
Thank you again for all of your comments, tweets, emails, messages, and for taking part in Emmett’s AMA. We read all of your feedback and we take it seriously. Expect more changes, more clarity, and more improvements on our recent updates in the days to come.
We understand that you may have additional questions. Feel free to join Emmett on tomorrow’s Twitch Weekly from 2:00-2:30 PST. He’ll be answering questions via Twitch chat or Twitter.