Twitch is the world’s leading social video platform and community for gamers, with more than 10 million daily active users. It’s also the best place to stream video game content and connect with your favorite gaming influencers and brands.
If you want to earn a living from playing games, you need to be Twitch.
However, if you’re new to Twitch, you may wonder how long you can stream on Twitch before Twitch cut’s you off.
Can you stream for a week without stopping? Or does Twitch limit streams to just a few hours?
Wanting to answer this question myself, I did a little research. This is what I found:
How long can you stream on Twitch? You can stream on Twitch for a maximum of 48 hours straight. After the 48 hours have passed, your stream will automatically end. However, you can immediately start another stream if you wish.
Personally, after playing games for 48 hours straight, I’d want to get some sleep!
In the following sections, I’ll examine this 48-hour rule in more detail. Then, I’ll switch gears and look at what Twitch is throttling. This is linked to the 48-hour rule because, generally, the more you stream, the more data you use, which could mean your stream quality drops so much Twitch will just cut you off early. Then finally, I’ll take a brief look at how long I think you should stream.
Ok, that’s a lot to cover! Let’s kick this article off by explaining how long you can stream on Twitch in more detail.
How Long can you stream on Twitch?
At the moment, a Twitch Stream can last up to 48 hours. If you have over 48 hours of VODs and must re-stream, the stream will automatically start over. Even if you re-stream immediately, the stream would still be considered a new session.
As you can imagine, this 48-hour period is more than long enough for 99.9% of streamer use cases. Even if a streamer is running a marathon streaming session, they can quickly stop and restart their stream without ill effect.
In fact, I’d say the 48-hour VOD limit that Twitch has in place is probably overkilling it for most streamers. I wouldn’t recommend streaming for this long time as it can affect your health.
For streaming sessions shorter than 48 hours, the Twitch Rewind feature will automatically rewind the stream to the start of the session. For sessions longer than 48 hours, you can manually rewind your stream by clicking Rewind in the top right corner of your screen.
When streaming a game or a series with a large following, you may want to consider choosing a shorter time frame, such as 6 hours. For games with smaller followings, I recommend choosing a lower period such as 3 hours 3 times a week.
What is Twitch throttling?
While streaming on Twitch, you may notice that your video quality drops, and the stream becomes choppy.
This is due to “throttling” on Twitch.
When you’re being throttled, you are streaming too much data compared to your internet connection’s upload speed. Twitch is a live-streaming platform that wants to protect other viewers trying to watch your channel by slowing down your stream. When you are streaming on Twitch, you’re sending your video to the server, which is then sent out to your viewers. Depending on your upload speed, you may send more data than your connection can handle.
For example, the 4k 60fps video you are uploading has a bandwidth of 30mbs, but your upload speed is only 25mbs. If that’s the case, your upload speed will be a bottleneck. The video will be trying to send more data per second than the connection can take, so data will be lost or delayed in transmission.
This can result in your viewers seeing a lower quality stream or even a stopping and stuttering stream. There are a few key signs to look out for when you think you’re being throttled on Twitch:
- The quality of your stream will drop
- Your chat will be delayed
- The stream will stop and start again
- You might even get an error message from Twitch.
Twitch takes this drastic action to lower the bandwidth needed to upload your video. They are trying to reduce the bitrate of your upload to match the upload speed of your internet connection.
If you are being throttled, you may need to consider lowering the quality of your stream and/or taking the drastic action of upgrading your internet upload speed. The latter of which is not exactly cheap.
In this section, you learned that Twitch will throttle your stream if the bitrate of your video exceeds your broadband’s upload speed.
How long should I stream on Twitch?
Consistency helps build an audience, so you just need to make sure you show up. Generally speaking, as a new streamer, you should build up to streaming consistently for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week.
However, streaming for 9 hours a week for a beginner streamer is a lot of time to sink into one activity. Especially if you hold down a full-time job, like most people who get into streaming do.
With that in mind, I would suggest starting as small as possible to achieve consistency.
Start by streaming at least 1 hour a day, 1 day a week. Work towards building that up to 3 hours one day a week. Usually, Sunday is the best day to do this.
Once you hit the 3 hours mark one day a week, pick an extra day and start streaming for 10 minutes on that day. I know 10 minutes sounds like a pointlessly small amount of time. But the small amount of time is by design. You want to build the habit of streaming slowly.
Keep up the time you stream on your second day until you hit 3 hours. So you are streaming 6 hours in total.
Then start again by streaming 3 on your first day, 3 hours on your second day, and 10 minutes on your 3rd day.
You want to take this incremental approach because when somebody starts a new habit like streaming, they enthusiastically jump in, stream for 6 hours 6 days a week, get overwhelmed, burn out, and never stream again.
You want to build up your tolerance for streaming. Which is not easy. You need to develop the mental muscles needed to stream consistently.
In this section, you learned that you should aim to stream for 3 hours, 3 days a week, for 9 hours each week.
However, you should build up to this total slowly. Otherwise, you may get overwhelmed.
The maximum amount of time you can stream on Twitch for one unbroken stream is 48 hours. After that, you will have to reset your stream and start again.
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that most streamers, even pro streamers, will never even come close to approaching this 48 hours limit.
Yes, there have been some streams over 100 hours long in length. But all of them just turned and ended the first stream while starting a second stream.
Additionally, Twitch will pull the plug on your stream in the stream quality start to deteriorate. So if you are streaming for a long time, ensure that your Broadband provider can handle that much data over a long period. Otherwise, Twitch will throttle your stream.
Finally, I recommend you consistently work up to streaming 3 hours a day, 3 days per week.
You’ll then have the best foundation to build your Twitch streaming empire.