Mixer’s Faster Than Light streaming protocol explained

Stream in real-time with Mixer's in-house protocol.

When Microsoft’s Mixer was first released to the market, one of its unique selling points was the focus on interactivity between streamer and audiences. Mixer achieves this by using its own in-house streaming protocol aptly named Faster Than Light (FTL).

The industry standard for streaming services is the Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP), which has a delay ranging from five to 30 seconds. FTL, however, allows for sub-second latency, meaning that streamers and viewers can communicate in real-time.

For those who enjoy interacting with streamers or audiences, the FTL protocol allows for practically instantaneous transmission to and fro. For example, if you enjoy playing interactive party games like The Jackbox Party Pack, an FTL stream will ensure lightning-quick responses from both parties.

The instant interactions do come at a cost, however. FTL streams are extremely sensitive to unstable connections, so slight jitters could cause massive delays in a stream. If you are experiencing stuttery video while streaming, dropping your bitrate or resolution could help. By lowering it bit-by-bit, you can stop when the stream regains buttery smoothness.

FTL is an option that you can control, even as a viewer. If your favorite Mixer streamer is on FTL but your internet speed is unable to keep up, you can simply untick the “Low Latency” box in the options setting found in the lower right of the stream.

Image via Mixer.

FTL is supported by several popular streaming applications like OBS Studio and XSplit, and is built into Microsoft’s console Xbox One and the Windows 10 OS.