Twitch has been trying to develop ways for broadcasters to supplement their regular live broadcasts with other kinds of content. Twitch added playlists for certain users to have content available on their channels when they were live and some streamers just manually re-streamed their previous casts but Twitch has decided to take that into their own hands. Vodcast lets you add a playlist full of videos from your library, whether they be past broadcast, highlights, or uploads, and Twitch will broadcast those directly to your channel.
On paper, this is very reminiscent of what the promise of playlists was but with key differences. You still add videos together to a playlist and they play on your channel but the way it’s displayed is slightly different. Playlists became their own category on your “Following” page but Vodcast has the upfront appearance that your channel is live. You show up with other live channels in a game’s directory, albeit with a “vodcast” tag. This means that as a streamer, you’ll still have some discoverability as you’re using vodcast.
Vodcast seems like a great way for YouTubers to transition over to a service like Twitch but aren’t quite ready for the live environment. Since Twitch does the rebroadcasting on their end, you could just hit play on the website and sit back while Twitch does all the work. You could go on to participate in chat and moderate the channel yourself if you so chose to. Vodcast could even be a fun way to debut new videos since it’s streamed live as if you were streaming and you can have a fairly regular chat experience and even pull out Twitch clips.
Despite being a barely launched feature, I do still have some criticisms. From a quality standpoint, Twitch doesn’t seem to be globally transcoding the vodcast streams. I don’t having regular transcoding on my channel and neither did a vodcast for me which could, like regular transcoding, happen on a need basis. I only mention this because if you wanted to premier new videos, as I mentioned above, and you upload them directly to Twitch before hand, they’ll have quality options on the video itself. Also, while I appreciate the fact that vodcasts show up with other live channels, I’m worried it will make for a confusing experience for viewers. I would imagine that regular Twitch people would be very put off by non-live content so if it isn’t very clear which streams are vodcasts, that could present unnecessary problems.
Much like playlists, I think vodcasts can be beneficial for all kinds of situations. If you purely want to have video on top of your regular live broadcast, you can start up a vodcast right after and hang out in chat while you do other work making your channel active all the time. If you stream regularly but want to having something live during an event, you can queue up some videos and just hit play on your dashboard, then you’ll be free to drop in from time to time but still have your channel active while you’re away. This seems like the most Twitch-like way to show off and premier vods instead of just having videos present on your channel and you get that live chat experience. Finally, in the most extreme case, if you properly prepared enough videos, you could have shorter break videos to remind people to take a break, as you might do on a regular stream, and have a Twitch channel focused entirely on vodcast. There’s a lot to like here and even if you disagree, the implementation of vodcast will hopefully not disrupt normal Twitch broadcasts so you’re free to continue using Twitch like normal.
For more info, check out the Twitch Blog.