Twitch has finally lifted the bitrate cap, previously 3.5 mbps (3500 kbps) to a recommended range of 3-6 mbps and set some general guidelines for achieving a good-looking 1080p broadcast. Firstly, to help scale the higher bitrate cap, Twitch is making more granular quality options available for viewers. Instead of low, medium, high, and source, more specified options will be present. 1080p60, 720p60, 720p30, etc will be what you see giving you a better idea of what kind of video you’ll be watching. These options were available for specific events on Twitch but they should be rolling out to more broadcasters soon.
In the blog post, Twitch linked to a page with a bunch of guidelines for encoder presets for all kinds of resolutions. While their guidelines are fine, I wonder who their update is really aimed at. For new streamers, a 1080p broadcast is extremely demanding especially if you bump up the encoder preset as they suggest. Maybe my computer is starting to show it’s age but I can’t move the encoder preset one step up to “faster” without maxing out my CPU. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good solution if you’re an established streamer with more gear, but it’s not as viable if you’re just starting out. I would certainly never tell someone starting today to get a dedicated streaming PC just so they can get a 1080p stream and that, to me, is the danger of the way Twitch is presenting this information.
Overall, I’d say more transcoding options for viewers are certainly welcome with the new bitrate cap and, if I’m right in assuming that these transcoding options will also be available to more broadcasters, that will also be very good.
For more information on the transcoding options, check out the Twitch blog.