Let’s set aside what anyone thinks about YouTube for a moment and let’s focus on Twitch. It’s a streaming platform geared towards gamers who streams their live gameplay with viewers, other gamers, and enthusiasts alike. However, the worst thing about Twitch is that the service leaves viewers like myself with a bad taste in our mouth due to their current policy of discriminating against viewers who only has the option of slow internet speeds. Be mindful that I am not able to completely review their service because of this issue.
Many streams are unwatchable and unenjoyable because the pages takes so long to load on slower connections and the Twitch service only allows one bitrate on smaller channels until the streamer becomes a “partner”. The only way for a streamer to become a partner is to get a big viewer base then they can enable the other bit rates. One problem though, Twitch limits how fast their channel grows from limiting them to one bitrate for viewers.
I’m on old 2-wire copper DSL (1.5mbps↓/256kbps↑) and it’s the only internet plan that is available where I live. I’m kinda stuck with the only ISP available, the infamous AT&T FastAccess DSL. Sure, cable internet is available, 5 miles up the road. Fixed wireless internet is also available, everywhere around me but not available for my address. And forget Fiber or Fios. AT&T has my area locked down and at their mercy of whatever service they provide.
Streams by gamers with smaller channels constantly buffer because of Twitch’s unfair policy. Some streams are completely unwatchable by people with lower internet speeds compared to YouTube, where I can watch streams all day, if I wanted to, because of the option on any stream to change the bitrate to 480p or 360p. YouTube doesn’t discriminate against people with slow internet connections and if I choose, I can choose Auto and the bitrate will change automatically according to my internet speed. Twitch has the auto feature also, but it’s useless when there’s only one bitrate available to viewers.
Until Twitch changes their policy, I’m one of many viewers who will stick with other services because of their internet speed discrimination practices. This is one instance of what Net Neutrality would have possibly prevented.
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