Hello there streamers! We were recently discussing programs and services we use on the forums and I figured it would be a great idea to compile a master list of some of the best programs and services to use with Twitch. This isn’t by any means a comprehensive list but it’s a good starting place for any streamer who’s looking for an edge.
First things first, lets start with broadcast software. There’s really three main programs most people use to capture and broadcast their streams:
- Open Broadcasting Software (OBS) – This is open source, free software that is fairly easy to use and well documented. There’s a good amount of plugins available for it and it runs on many different operating systems. I would personally recommend OBS as a good starting place when looking for programs to broadcast with. It’s basically the swiss army knife of broadcast programs. I particularly like it’s noise gate implementation and the amount of freedom you have to customize your settings. For information on how to get started with OBS, see this article. (Free)
- XSplit – XSplit is very similar to OBS in terms of functionality. It is however a paid product (though a free, restricted version is available). One of it’s benefits however, is that being a paid product it does offer phenomenal support. It’s a bit flashier and easy to use. Many people report fewer issues when using game capture with XSplit as well. XSplit also supports multiple plugins. ($5-$9/Month)
- Wirecast – This is considered to be professional broadcast software. It’s hefty price tag reflects that. It is however, very well respected within the industry. I don’t have any experience with this software, but from the looks of it, it seems to have all the features you could dream of. ManVsGame has praised Wirecast’s interface and transition animations. ($495 for Studio, $995 for Pro)
- Other: The PS4 and Xbox One both have built in broadcast options that are fairly basic but offer decent quality streams that are easy to set up and use. NVIDIA offers it’s Shadow Play solution to owners of it’s newer GPUs as well. Shadow Play is fairly simplistic but offers high quality streams at a reduced performance impact as it takes advantage of on board encoders to encode the video rather than hammering your CPU. The downside to Shadow Play is the lack of customization and fairly high bitrate required to broadcast at quality settings. Still, it’s very easy to use.
Twitch Services and Programs
There’s services of all kinds out there, catering to the aspiring and established streamer alike. Below I will run down some of the best services people in our community have recommended. Note that some programs fall into multiple categories.
Notification Programs / Services
There are a lot of services that allow you to broadcast a pop up notification that alerts stream viewers of new followers, subscriptions or donations. Here are some of the more popular options:
- TNotifier – TNotifier is an all in one utility allowing you to track various conditions. They have a web based platform for creating your own custom conditions to trigger alerts. For example you can make “Follow Train” alerts which trigger on rapid consecutive follows. TNotifier offers great customization and has fairly easy setup. They offer Follow, Donation and Subscription alerts. TNotifier also interfaces with many 3rd party donation services.
- Twitch Alerts – Twitch Alerts is an easy to use, web-based alert system. You can use Twitch Alerts via the web based widget or via CLR Browser plugin. Another cool thing offered by Twitch Alerts is a windows program called Stream Labels. It lets you create and update logs to be displayed on stream, such as “Most recent donator” or “Last five follows”. It offers follow, subscription and donation tracking.
- Nightdev – Nightdev has many projects, two of which are subscriber and follower alerts. Both are fairly basic but easy to set up. You can implement your own custom CSS code as well.
Many people pursuing streaming full / part time look for ways to monetize their stream. While you could always just give your Pay Pal info out, using a donation service can help protect your identity and finances. Plus, you can offer more ways to support the stream. Most of these services charge a small percentage based on tips received, often 2% or less of your total tips. See each service’s FAQ for more details.
- Streamtip – Streamtip is a service that charges a small fee (based on earnings) to enable you to receive easy, safe, donations. It tracks your donations and makes it easy to analyze your income. Streamtip offers fraud prevention features and enables you to receive 26 different currencies.
- SupportTheStream – Another all in one site for tip tracking and fraud prevention. They offer donation alerts and a customizable page.
- Twitch Alerts – Along with earlier mentioned alert services, Twitch alerts allows you to receive donations via their service as well. You can create a page for you to link to your viewers, which ties to your Pay Pal account. Twitch Alerts also allows you to track your donations.
- Treat Stream – Simply put, this service lets viewers send you food! It also obscures your personal information. Win.
Server and Stream Analytics
When you’re a streamer, you’re bound to hit a few snags broadcasting your show. Sometimes the issue is on Twitch’s end, sometimes its on your end. The tools listed below will help you figure out which is which.
- JTVPing – This program allows you to see the ping and jitter of Twitch’s servers. Its useful for determining the optimal server to broadcast to for any given stream.
- Twitch Status – Self explanatory. Tells you the status of the Twitch servers. Stream crash? Check this website to see if Twitch is having issues.
- R1CH’s Twitch Analyzer – Go live, punch your channel in, get solid feedback on your quality and settings. Easy to use, informative.
- Twitch Support Twitter – This is a great place to check if there’s any service issues. Twitch is pretty good about keeping the community updated.
Twitch Chat Bots
There’s three kinds of Twitch chat bots: moderator bots, social bots and bots that are a mix of the two. Moderator bots fulfil the duty of a moderator (though there’s no substitute for a real person) by purging unwanted chat or links. Social bots (aka loyalty bots) help encourage interaction via betting, song requests, point systems and mini games. A lot of bots offer a mix of the two. I wrote a short article comparing a few bots, you can read that here as well.
- Deepbot – This is my personal favorite. Deepbot requires a donation, but offers an incredible feature set. It is primarily a social bot. It offers point systems, betting, mini games, song requests, custom commands and more. Deepbot has a built in chat client and even has several features that integrate into OBS such as follower alerts and donation alerts. It has a desktop client that is easy to use and frequently updated. Here’s how to get started with Deepbot.
- Ankhbot – This is another popular bot that offers many of the features Deepbot has. Its not as feature rich, but its free and has a solid desktop client that looks great and is easy to use. Its also not system intensive. The developer updates it often as well.
- Nightbot – Nightbot is an oldie but a goodie. Its primarily a moderator bot but offers some social features like song requests. Its ran from a web client and is fairly customizable. It’s also free.
- Moobot – Moobot is another web based moderator bot. It’s similar to Nightbot but has fewer social features. I’ve found it to be a bit quicker to respond in chat than Nightbot. Moobot is free but has some paid features.
- Ultimate Twitch Bot – Ultimate Twitch Bot is most comparable to Deepbot or Ankhbot and has many of the same social features such as point systems, raffles, betting and custom commands. It runs via a desktop client and is free to use (supported by donations).
Twitch Chat Programs / Services
By default, Twitch’s chat is fairly bare bones. It’s driven by IRC, an older chat protocol. Luckily, there’s a lot of programs and services out there that makes using Twitch chat a lot more intuitive and feature rich. These programs are not only great for streamers, but viewers as well.
- Better Twitch TV (BTTV) – This is a plugin that everyone should be running. It offers a ton of new functionality to the standard Twitch chat such as custom emoticons, night mode, message highlighting and easier chat interaction. Its quick and easy to install. Go grab it!
- Chatty – Chatty is a Java based program that lets you customize a Twitch chat window to your liking. You can change font type and font size, set custom sound alerts to play when certain words are typed (awesome for moderators!) and track channel statistics all from this client. Its easy to use and super customizable. You can even use it to join multiple channels at once.
- Hex Chat – Hex Chat is an open source IRC chat client. It works very well with Twitch and also offers great customization. It’s lightweight and a good alternative to the standard Twitch chat. Its a tried and true solution.
Miscellaneous Programs and Services
Here’s some other helpful programs and services that will make your life as a streamer easier:
- Social Blade – Social Blade analyzes and graphs your growth on Twitch and other media sites. While followers and views never paint a super accurate picture of your channel’s success, it’s good information to know. It can be helpful or hurtful and I would never use these numbers to judge your worth as a streamer. Seeing your numerical growth is a good thing though, it gives you another metric to consider when analyzing your success as a whole.
- Magescript – This site has a tool that allows you to see historically, which games are good to stream. It suggests games that have high viewer counts but few streamers. The idea is that you gain good visibility to a large audience.
- CPUID Hardware Monitor – Streaming can be BRUTAL on your system. Gaming alone can bring a computer to it’s knees, never mind adding encoding and broadcasting to the list of things pummeling your CPU and GPU. You’re going to want to keep an eye on your stats, to make sure nothing is overheating and everything is working as intended. HW Monitor is a great way to do that.
- Markdown Basics – This is a quick guide that helps you make the most of your Twitch panel text. Spruce up your panels with some bullet points and advanced formatting!
- Restream.io – This is a fantastic service that lets you broadcast to multiple streaming services at once! So lets say you want to broadcast to both Twitch and Beam (An awesome new service). You punch your info into this site, then copy the stream key they give you into OBS and are ready to go. This website also consolidates all the various streaming service chats into one window for easy viewing!
- Twitch Tools – This is a web based toolkit for Twitch. You can use it to download past broadcasts, check various statistics or get detailed information on your channel. It’s simple to use and fast. Best of all, free.
Thank You Lift Community!
I’d like to give a big shout out to the members of the Lift Gaming community who helped make this article happen. Lim 89, Stemor 61, Helixia and Nestle Drink TV helped put this list together. If you have any programs or services that you think deserve a spot on this list, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message on the Lift Gaming forums.