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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.
As you may have already heard, we’re beginning to roll out a redesign of our video player on web.
We are happy to announce we’ve added significant server capacity to our transcode infrastructure.
To provide the best possible viewing experience, Twitch provides transcodes – High, Medium, and Low quality options – on our most popular channels. Without these options, every viewer would be forced to watch the exact same video stream. And because download speeds vary by ISP and individual, broadcasters using a single stream must choose between a stream which is too bandwidth intensive for everyone to watch smoothly, or broadcast at a low bitrate.
Since the dawn of the time, our users have yearned to connect to chat using HTML5 instead of Flash – we’re pleased to announce this is now a reality. HTML5 chat is rolling out today.
With our shiny new WebSockets chat implementation, you’ll experience:
- Speed: Chat loads nearly 4x faster on average
- Efficiency: Chat uses fewer CPU resources, especially in busy chat rooms
- The Future: This is a big step towards a complete HTML5 Twitch experience
Now you can send private chat messages without leaving your current chat.
Whisper to friends, followers, and subscribers to chat privately one-on-one across all of Twitch. Your whisper will show up in-line with the rest of chat on web and mobile apps no matter what channel you’re on. If you’re watching Lirik and your friend is watching MANvsGAME, you can still whisper to him/her as long as you are both online. But only you and the user you’re whispering to will be able to see the conversation.
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.
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Beginning today, all broadcasters will have the option to reduce stream delay on their broadcasts via an on-off toggle in Settings. Enabling this feature reduces delay on average by 33%.
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. If you’re a broadcaster who spends a lot of time interacting with chat, this new reduced delay option means you’ll spend less time waiting for replies.
Today, we’re releasing a new way to submit an appeal if you believe one of your videos has been incorrectly flagged by our Audio Recognition system.
The new functionality will initially be available to all members of the Twitch Partner Program and non-partner broadcasters whose videos are in HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) format, which is roughly 25% of non-partner broadcasters. We are in the process of storing all newly created VODs in HLS format rather than Flash Video (FLV) format. (How can you tell if your videos are in HLS or FLV? Check the VOD URL. HLS VODs will have /v/ in the URL; FLV will have /b/.)
For those broadcasters not included in the introductory rollout, the Audio Recognition appeal process will function as it currently does today. All broadcasters will still be able to appeal a muted VOD regardless of format.
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.
[Note from Support: You may have noticed some craziness overnight with sub notifications in chat. That was directly related to this feature. We apologize for not giving a proper warning before pushing this to production.]
Declare your loyalty by letting everyone in chat know how long you’ve been a subscriber! When you’ve renewed a channel subscription, or entered a subsequent month of a bulk subscription, you’ll be prompted to share the news with your community in chat when the channel is live.
Introducing Theater Mode – a new way to maximize your viewing experience on Twitch. Theater Mode lets you full-screen the video player without losing chat and features an easy-on-the-eyes black background.