Twitch star Tyler1 was in disbelief yesterday after viewers reported their stream quality was throttled to 480p for using ad-block browser extension uBlock Origin. The League of Legends streamer said it “can’t be right,” attributing it to a bug in Twitch’s coding.
But it’s no bug. A number of viewers have been airing complaints on Reddit over the last 24 hours, upset that Twitch capped the stream quality for those using uBlock’s latest script. A Twitch spokesperson told Dot Esports that its goal isn’t to target ad block users with more interruptions than other viewers. But the company will continue updating its ad delivery system, which will impact ad blocker functionality.
Ads are an integral part of the platform’s ecosystem because it’s a free service, according to the spokesperson. When ads are blocked, streamers and Twitch get nothing.
So a percentage of uBlock users spoofing a certain type of player to watch content creators without ads will experience low-quality streams. Twitch’s recommended solution is to revert the changes made in the latest uBlock workaround, the spokesperson said.
But some uBlock users refuse to disable their ad blocker, claiming they’ll “stop watching Twitch before [they] watch ads.” Others believe Twitch “wants to go out of business” and that the company is “self-imploding.” And a myriad of users are still set on finding new workarounds.
This is the latest battle in the fight over advertisements, but it’s not the first. Earlier this week, some uBlock users were met with periodic pop-ups when tuning into their favorite streamers, according to a report by The Verge. Those running the ad blocker were met with a message from Twitch every 10 to 20 minutes, explaining that a third-party tool or browser extension was “impacting site performance.”
Twitch also ran a wildly unpopular automated mid-roll ad trial in September that threw ads in the middle of a stream. With Twitch broadcasts happening live and in real time, getting a mid-roll ad could cause you to lose out on desired content. After the overwhelming amount of negative feedback from both streamers and viewers, Twitch ended the testing period. Commercial breaks are now only reserved for when you first tune into a broadcast or if the streamer decides to run them.
Even though ads are undesirable for many viewers, it’s a huge source of revenue for the company. And while some may choose to fight back by closing their wallets and boycotting the site, Twitch’s popularity within the industry is unrivaled. Mixer attempted to chip away at its success by poaching popular streamers like Ninja and shroud. But the Microsoft-owned platform was forced to shut its doors this summer due to subpar viewership, letting the two biggest fish in the sea return to Twitch soon after.