The popular live video streaming site for gamers has announced dramatic new features that could have major consequences throughout its community.
UPDATE: Twitch has recently responded to the issues highlighted in this story, making what was known at the time of this writing old by the time of its posting. The changes reflected since then have been updated below this original account of events.
Some big, possibly community-effecting changes are being planned for Twitch. The popular live video streaming site, which caters to video game playthroughs and major gaming tournaments has revealed on Wednesday new guidelines about their Video-On-Demand system, and a controversial copyrighted music tagging software that mutes any rights-violating videos.
Let’s address Twitch’s new VOD system first, which will have some new welcomed features for broadcasters and viewers: such as higher quality videos, the ability to watch archived content on smart phones and other platforms, a new and easier way of exporting videos to YouTube, plus more options that promise to make video discoverability all the better.
In exchange for these new features though, Twitch will be removing the option for users to save their livestreams as archived videos forever. Beginning three weeks from now, Twitch will delete all broadcasts for nonpaying Twitch members after 14 days; turbo members, meanwhile, can have past broadcasts saved in their library for up to 60 days.
Only highlights, which can stretch for up to 2 hours in length, can be saved from being deleted past their Twitch-mandated expiration date. The culling, so to speak, will begin in three-weeks time, so it’s important to hurry and trim down any broadcast to fit the 2-hour highlight specification, preventing it from getting erased. Like, right now would be best.
A good part of Twitch’s upheaval of their archival system is based on new research complied by the company, which found that 80 percent of its storage capacity is composed of past broadcasts that never get watched. Even more justifying, archived videos that do get watched, users only do so within the first 14 days of a video’s posting 84 percent of the time.
With the high cost of storage, keeping so much unwatched content was a financial burden with no real benefit to Twitch. And keeping the archival status quo harshly limited the audience a playthrough could reach due to their extraneous length. Up till now, Twitch app users on Xbox 360, iPad, and smart phones could only view live broadcasts on Twitch.
That changes now that most saved streams will be limited to highlights, opening up the full buffet of video content on their site, be it through an Internet browser, a video game console, or on a mobile device/tablet to everyone with online access. So ultimately, a good thing for views and perhaps a small headache for broadcasters who are now given few options in regards to archival methods.
Now a real potential big headache? That would be Twitch’s new audio tagging system, which scans and targets licensed audio in a video that infringes upon any copyright claim (thankfully, live broadcasts are exempt from this software). In place, the tagging system will now mute any copyrighted material in a video for 30-minutes.
YouTube has a similar copyright catching method in place for its videos, and for the content creators there, it has been a great thorn in their collective sides, giving full unchecked power to license holders for even the slightest of violations.
Twitch is still fleshing out these new policies issued on Wednesday, and have said to be openingly hearing feedback through its social channels. And judging from the immediate, heated reaction from Twitch users, some of whom include popular Let Play-ers with massive followings, since these new policies have been revealed, the company is getting it thoroughly.
UPDATE: Twitch has apparently come out and course-corrected some of its latest decisions in the past few hours.
Through their official Twitter account and official blog, the company is reportedly eliminating the 2-hour limit on highlight videos (giving back some archival functionality to its broadcasters), and the addition of a VOD audio removal appeal button that is meant to ease the concerns over the misuse of the newly in-placed copyright music tagging system.
We will keep you up to date on any further announcements from Twitch as they become known