Users on Twitch are convinced that the site is downgrading video quality for viewers who use certain kinds of adblock software as the latest salvo in the ongoing conflict over advertising.
This summer, Twitch began testing and rolling out new automated ads that play during broadcasts, and it’s safe to say that their interruptions are pretty much universally hated.
It didn’t take long for users to come up with workarounds like Ublock, a popular tool that more people started to use to avoid the autoplay adverts. The site sent out annoying PSAs to users using adblockers, and things have only heated up since.
On Nov. 5 it became clear the entire situation has turned into a full-on arms race between Twitch and the adblockers, with video quality being the latest casualty.
Popular Twitch streamer Tyler1 responded to a viewer who complained about a drop in quality on Nov 5, telling them it wasn’t him, and that he couldn’t see how Twitch ratcheting down quality for users who block ads was “ethical.”
“Damn, Twitch spamming ads and getting rid of adblock so hard, now there lowing the stream quality? That can’t be right,” the fully reformed streamer said. “That’s not an ethical decision I don’t think, I don’t think that’s right. It’s like a bug, in the coding or something.”
Bug or not, that same day, multiple Twitch viewers using Ublock and other tools noticed a sudden downturn in stream quality, where they were unable to watch at resolutions higher than 480p, even dropping down to a 360p limit at one point.
Fixes were rolled out almost right after Twitch apparently made their move, and they seemed to work, at least for a while. Right now video quality is no longer being throttled if you use an adblocker, but preroll ads are now popping up, so it looks like Twitch has the upper hand, for now.
Like we mentioned earlier, almost no one likes ads interrupting Twitch streams, not even the streamers themselves. But like every other website they are one of the main sources of revenue, so they’re most likely not going away anytime soon.
For now, it seems everyone will have to suffer through ads on the site, until the adblockers are able to figure out another workaround in a future update. Then this cycle, or something similar to it, could very well begin all over again.