Twitch Squad Streaming is a new feature announced by Twitch in 2018 and released in 2019. It allows multiple Twitch streamers, at multiple locations, to all stream on a single screen. Squad streams aren’t for everyone, and they may not work the way that you think that they do. For more, read on.
What is a Squad Stream?
A Twitch squad stream allows Twitch viewers to watch up to five streamers at the same time in the same window. While this can have many applications, from round-table discussions to tabletop gaming, the obvious and most common use for this is in team- or squad-based games, like PUBG, Fortnite, Apex Legends and so on. It allows viewers to see the same action from various different angles and perspectives.
How do I watch one?
The easiest way to find squad streams on Twitch is to browse for streams with the “squad stream” tag. You can also just browse normally and hope to find one at random. Click on that stream to go to that channel as normal. On the stream page, there will be a banner indicating that the streamer you’ve selected is squad streaming, and who they are squadded up with. There will also be a “view squad” button in the top-right. Clicking that takes you to the squad stream page.
Viewers can follow each streamer individually from the squad stream page.
The squad stream page is like having each streamer’s video up in a separate window, except it’s conveniently inside one window and you are able to toggle back and forth between each streamer and their chat easily. You can only chat or cheer the stream that is in the primary (biggest) position, as there is no squad-wide chat. However, you can follow or subscribe by clicking the icons on any of the streams. You can control the volume and video quality for each separate streamer, though the sound options may be limited by the streamers. Viewers can also follow or subscribe to each streamer individually from the squad stream page. There isn’t a “follow squad” option, or anything that allows you to follow all the streamers at once.
How do I host a Squad Stream?
If you’re a Twitch streamer, squad streams may or may not be available for you depending on your Twitch status. Affiliates and non-affiliates may not currently squad stream. Only Twitch Partners may squad stream. According to Twitch, this is because of the resource-intensive nature of squad streaming on the server-side. Twitch says that they will expand squad streaming to non-partners eventually, though there’s no time frame on that promise.
To launch a squad stream, assuming that you and your squad are all Twitch partners, go to your Creator Dashboard. One of the menus on the Creator Dashboard will be Squad Stream. Here, you can invite other partners to your squad stream, launch your squad stream, or accept or deny invitations from other partners to join their squad. You cannot launch a squad stream if no other Partners have joined your stream. The initiating streamer is the Squad Leader, who can add or remove players from the squad. If the Squad Leader drops their stream, the second streamer becomes the new Squad Leader, and so on. Once you have launched a squad stream, it looks mostly the same as a regular stream. However, you can switch back and forth between viewing the squad stream and just your own channel.
Twitch doesn’t offer voice or chat communication options within a squad stream. That means streamers will have to use a third-party voice chat program to communicate with each other. Things can bog down and get desynced if any streamer in a squad has a high-latency connection, so it’s recommended that all squad streamers change their latency settings to a low setting in their channel settings (located at Dashboard > Settings > Channel).
What about view counts?
Viewer counts are measured by viewers that have your stream in the primary position. You can run ads, raids or hosts from within a stream, though you may have to change your view from the squad view to your regular channel view to initiate hosts and raids from chat and launch ads. This should be completely transparent to your viewers. You can switch back to the squad view afterward.
The feature is too new for any real trends or reliable data on the subject.
Because viewers switch back and forth between who they have selected to be the primary stream within the squad stream view, there really isn’t a need to “manage” your squad. If a streamer goes idle or decides to play something else, the Squad Leader can remove them from the squad stream, but otherwise you can only control what goes on in your own channel, just like on a regular stream.
Squad streaming is a long-awaited feature for Twitch viewers, though since it launched it hasn’t been as popular as many believed it would be. While it can be a way to attract new viewers to a channel, some streamers worry that it might also serve to dilute their viewership since it puts them in competition for eyeballs with their squadmates. The feature is too new for any real trends or reliable data on the subject, so for now Twitch Partners will have to play it by ear.