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What do the new Twitch changes mean for you?

Today has brought some big changes in Twitch's service — both tweaks to how archiving works and the new ability for Twitch to mute archives that use copyrighted audio. There's a lot to take in with these two stories, so we thought we'd do a quick run-down of what it means for you.

If you're a viewer

The changes to Twitch's archived video methods are largely positive for viewers. While full broadcasts will no longer be saved indefinitely, they'll stick around for a solid amount of time — 14 days for regular users and 60 days for anyone who's a Twitch Turbo subscriber or partnered broadcaster. Most streams with any sizable audience will fall under one of those latter two.

More notably, those archives should become easier to watch than they have been previously. Twitch will be introducing options for watching archived videos in places other than your browser. Previously, non-computer Twitch apps on the Xbox 360, iPad, etc. only allowed users to watch live broadcasts.

Twitch is also promising more discoverability for videos. In other words, presumably the site will highlight popular archived content or, upon completing a video, suggest other videos you might want to watch, similar to what YouTube and other video-on-demand services offer. This should make finding content you're interested in easier.

Twitch's change in approach to audio is more problematic. Since the Audible Magic software will only target archived videos, it's entirely possible that archived versions of streams will be muted while the live version was totally normal.

If you're a broadcaster

Both of these changes to Twitch's service have a much bigger and (in many cases) much more frustrating impact on broadcasters.

First off, if you have streamed anything in the past and have archives you want to save, you'd better get to creating highlights immediately. Twitch says it will begin deleting old archived broadcasts starting three weeks from today — and yes, that's all archived broadcasts, including the ones you clicked "save forever" on. "Save forever" is no longer a thing for full broadcasts.

The one thing Twitch will not delete is highlights. You can create highlights of up to two hours from any archived broadcast for as long as that broadcast exists. Earlier in Twitch's history, highlights were meant to be specific moments pulled from streams; under the new rules, it's likely that a lot of broadcasters will begin de facto creating lengthy "highlights" from every stream they do, ensuring that the content will live on past the 14- or 60-day expiration date.

The extra step added on to your streams may not bother you, but once again, the audio changes are likely to have a more pronounced negative effect. Current highlights are already having portions of audio muted, including gameplay video with only in-game music and, indeed, Twitch's own content. Some game developers are even responding to notices of music getting cut that should not be.

While the audio muting will not affect live broadcasts, it seems certain that the automated process will frequently hit any archived videos and highlights. Twitch has also said that videos that have been muted can be sent to YouTube ... but the audio will remain removed. If you haven't been saving your stream videos locally, now is the time to start.

It's going to take some time to figure out the full impact of these changes to Twitch, and a lot of it will depend on how touchy the Audible Magic software is and how many videos it mutes with or without reason.

Representatives from Twitch offered to answer individual questions via e-mail but declined an interview for this piece. We're going to continue talking to people and exploring the new issues facing Twitch broadcasters in the coming days.

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