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How to watch Twitch.tv lag free in VLC

Since a couple of years I have transformed my garage into a gaming room for my son. Next to a beamer, a PS3, a surround system and a network switch there is also a ten year old desktop running Xubuntu 12.04 . Lately my son and his friends are playing League of Legends, also called LOL, on their laptops. For their latest LAN-party they wanted to watch a LOL stream from twitch.tv via the beamer using the old desktop.

Twitch.tv is a live streaming video platform for live coverage of e-sports. It is very popular, especially for LOL streams. Due to its increasing popularity twitch.tv suffers a lot from lag issues.  To make things even worse twitch.tv relies heavily on flash. Directly viewing twitch.tv from the website on the old pc was a disaster. Shockwave flash crashed in Chrome whilst in Firefox the stream was extremely blurry and laggy.

But Livestreamer and VLC, both open source programs, gave me the solution. Livestreamer is a command line interface that can pipe various services into vlc. The result was impressive, most impressive. The stream was impeccable and of a far better quality than my old pc could generate from the twitch.tv website. Moreover the piped stream on VLC was not disturbed by commercials.

Installation in (X)ubuntu

In order to have my xubuntu desktop ready for piping the twitch stream I had to install a couple of packages on it. Open up a terminal and these commands will install all necessary software:

sudo apt-get install VLC
sudo apt-get install python-pip
sudo pip install livestreamer

Using livestreamer to watch twitch.tv on VLC

If you know the url of the twitch.tv channel, lets say twitch.tv/riotgames, you can enter the following command:

livestreamer twitch.tv/riotgames

The return shows what streams are available for that particular channel:

[cli][info] Found matching plugin twitch for URL twitch.tv/riotgames

Available streams: high, low, medium, mobile (worst), source (best)

Seen the limited power of my old desktop I choose to open the medium stream with following command:

livestreamer twitch.tv/riotgames medium

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Thanks to open source software my son and his friends could follow twitch.tv on the big screen lag free and with an acceptable resolution.  Livestreamer is not limited to twitch.tv. Most of the big streaming services like dailymotion, livestream, youtube live and ustream are supported as well.

Kris Dylst

Nuclear waste researcher, so I'm not an IT professional. I grew up with a Commodore 64 and used a Macintosh classic while studying. Xubuntu is my main operating system since 2008, but I do some distro hopping every now and then. I love to run and watch the football games of my son's team.


  1. Kris Dylst

    Hello Remin Raphael, thx for noticing.

  2. Woaw, I would have never even imagine that could be possible !..
    Thank you, it still have some lags, but it cannot be worse than twitch tv !

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