What is stream delay on Twitch?

It's often used when streamers compete in gaming tournaments.

Image via Twitch

As a live streaming platform, Twitch often relies on interaction between content creators and their viewers, but not always. Having a delay between the game and a stream is usually not beneficial, but it does have its uses.

Stream delay refers to the amount of time between when something happens and when it is broadcast on a livestream.

Most streamers operate with as little latency as possible and have no stream delay set on their channel. This makes it so that content creators can directly interact with viewers, and it allows streamers to develop relationships with their community.

So why ever set a stream delay? There are a couple of situations in which streamers might need to prevent viewers from seeing what they’re doing at the exact moment that they’re doing it.

The primary reason for delaying a stream has to do with what is called “stream sniping.” Stream sniping is when a person watching someone’s stream uses the stream as a means to find a content creator in whatever game they are playing. 

Sniping can range from timing when you queue up as an attempt to get into the same game as a streamer, to helping out a streamer in-game, to going out of your way to kill a streamer by sneaking up on them.

For this reason, many esports competitions that allow players to stream require content creators to set a delay of usually around five minutes on their stream.

At the same time, some streamers who get stream sniped and killed regularly might use a delay if they’re getting particularly frustrated by the impact stream sniping is having on their content. Putting up a delay is usually a last resort in this situation though because of the impact it has on a streamer’s ability to interact with viewers.