Live streaming is quickly becoming not just the latest new trend but also the hottest new monetization source (read: ads). And while there are a lot of new live streaming platforms popping up, Twitch.tv is still considered to be the granddaddy of such services. It is only appropriate, then, that the now Amazon-owned company is initiating a new thrust that will push the quality of live streaming forward. And it is doing so by finally making streaming at a higher quality of 1080p available to the masses, just in time for the entertainment industry’s push for even more insane 4K resolutions.
To be clear, Twitch has actually allowed some publishers to live stream at 1080p 60fps but it has never done so en masse. The reason is mostly technical, as Twitch still hasn’t perfected its transcoding technology. Now it seems that it is confident enough that it is flipping the switch for each and every streamer.
Twitch now recommends ingest bitrates of 3 to 6 megabits, whereas before it capped it to 3.5 megabits. The higher bitrate means being able to stream at 1080p quality. Aside from the higher resolution, it also means there will be less visual artifacts on streams, especially for fast-paced games where such artifacts can be detrimental to the enjoyment of the video feed. On the viewer end, that means they will now have more resolution choices when they open up their settings menu.
That said, Twitch does caution broadcasters about going overboard. Streaming is a bandwidth-dependent activity, and just because you can stream at 1080/60p doesn’t mean you will always be able to. If the streamer’s bandwidth can’t handle the load, it will drop frames rather than drop to a lower resolution. It might sometimes be better to stick to the conventional 720p if it means delivering a smoother and more seamless stream.