Twitch.TV (finally) comes to the Roku

Twitch on Roku
Credit: Roku

Twitch.TV is hot these days. A lot of people spend a lot of time watching other people play games. In the early days Twitch was all about sitting at a computer watching someone play a game while commenting/kibitzing via text chat. But as the site grew, and audiences grew with it, chat often became all but unusable due to the volume of messages, particularly considering there's a 30 second delay between what the player is seeing and what the audience is seeing. It makes for, at best, a disjointed conversation in all but the most intimate settings.

At the same time eSports was getting bigger all the time and the eSports announcers were getting better and better. In the past few months I've gone from a Twitch skeptic to someone who'll kick back on the couch and watch an eSports match from time to time. But I don't want to squint at a laptop screen and I have no interest in chatting. I want to passively watch on the big screen.

Meanwhile over in the land of streaming boxes, I love the Roku for virtually everything except Twitch. Why? Because the only way to watch Twitch on the Roku was via an "Unofficial Twitch Channel." Now I don't mean to sound ungrateful. In fact I appreciate that someone created this channel, but being unofficial it was limited. It was essentially the "logged out" Twitch experience. You could see whatever streams were popular at the moment but you couldn't log in and check what was going on in your favorite streams.

But finally that has changed. As of yesterday there's now a Twitch Channel for the Roku and it has the features you'd expect. You can log in and see the channels you follow (assuming they're broadcasting) and you can search by game or stream. There's no way to bring up the chat panel but given that there's no keyboard for the Roku that seems logical.

It's worth noting that the Unofficial Twitch Channel has been deactivated. If you had it installed you'll be prompted to download the official one.

And hey, remember that 30 second delay in Twitch streams I mentioned? It seems like that is going away too. A post at Destructoid has the details. The short version is that the streamer now has the option to reduce the delay by an average of 33%. (It's an option because the delay is considered necessary for competitions to prohibit cheating.) The feature is in beta now so if you're a Twitch streamer who wants to interact with your audience, this is something you'll probably want to check out.

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