Jan 8, 2024

Introducing the Enhanced Broadcasting Beta

If you’re a streamer on Twitch, you’ve probably heard about transcodes. If you haven’t, allow me to try and give a simple explanation of what they are and why you should care. 

Transcodes refer to the process of converting your video into different resolutions so that Twitch can adapt a viewer’s experience depending on their bandwidth. Having multiple transcodes is critical to ensuring all of your viewers have a buffer-free experience when tuning into your stream, regardless of their network connection.

There are three key factors in creating transcodes: 1) the codec (i.e. the technology) that you are using to store and stream the video; 2) the time taken when generating the transcode; and 3) the processing power of the computer you are using when generating the transcode. Ultimately, these three factors determine the video quality that you receive for a given number of bits to store the video. So, if you have a more powerful processor, you can create a more compact representation of the video in the same amount of time. Similarly, if you use a more modern codec to represent the video, you can get improved video quality for the same number of bits.

Twitch offers transcodes to all streamers, but historically we’ve only been able to guarantee them to Partners. Today, all of our transcoding occurs “in the cloud” on Twitch servers. In addition, we are often creating these transcodes using older processors acquired several years ago. Transcoding can be expensive and given the number of streams Twitch supports on a daily basis we cannot always guarantee transcodes for all streamers. Given that we are a live service, we need to create these transcodes quickly to limit any latency in the stream. While a transcode may not be needed for viewers with a high bandwidth internet connection, transcodes can be critical for providing a high quality viewing experience to viewers on mobile devices and those with limited bandwidth.

For both big streamers and small streamers, transcodes matter a lot to their viewers and we have always wanted to be able to provide transcodes to 100% of our streamers. That’s why I’m excited to announce that we’ve been working with NVIDIA and OBS to add Enhanced Broadcasting to OBS. Enhanced Broadcasting provides two critical capabilities to streamers. First, it will create multiple encodings of your stream using dedicated encoder resources in your GPU. Having multiple encodes allows the video encoding to occur on your streaming device at multiple resolutions. Thanks to the dedicated encoders on NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPUs, this will result in a higher quality stream and reduced latency for all resolutions without impacting your streaming experience. Second, this capability will provide an automatic configuration option for OBS that will optimize your settings based upon the processing power of your computer and your upload bandwidth. Automatic configuration relieves the burden on you to get your settings right in OBS. No need for trial and error offline with bitrate and other technical settings. Once enabled you can feel confident you’ve got the right settings to create a great experience for your community.

Join the Closed Beta
This Twitch-specific beta version of OBS is ready to test. We are working with the OBS team and hope to get these updates included in their next mainline release. In the meantime, if you’re interested in helping us test these features out, head to the Streaming Tools page in your Creator Dashboard sign up for the beta. We’ll begin inviting participants on a rolling basis beginning later this week.

To be clear, we’ll continue to provide transcodes from our servers as needed. Participating in this beta allows you to be among the first streamers to try this new technology, while benefiting from improved stream quality and extended reach.

Looking Forward
In addition to giving streamers more control, this beta paves the way for future improvements such as new codec support, and experimenting with HEVC and AV1. AV1 is the next generation of video encoding technology — 40% more efficient than the current AVC standard — and it will improve visual quality, and reduce bandwidth. As NVIDIA announced today at CES, we are also working together to bring AV1 to Twitch. At this point, this capability is exclusively available with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40 Series GPUs and powered by the OBS Studio features described here. Finally, as steering committee members of the Veovera Software Organization, we’re driving industry collaboration to make the Enhanced RTMP Multitrack Feature specification available to the entire live streaming ecosystem in the coming months.

For more information about system requirements, and other FAQ, check out our help article.

Dan Clancy, CEO

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