Saturday 24 February 2018

Amazon buys Twitch for $970m, beating Google to tap a new 'global phenomenon' of gamers

James Vincent

With an all-cash deal totalling $970 million, Amazon has beaten Google to the punch and purchased Twitch – a video-game streaming site at the forefront of an industry that analysts say might be ‘bigger than Hollywood’.

Google-owned YouTube had previously been in the running to purchase the site, which is the most popular destination for broadcasting and watching others play video games and has a monthly audience of some 55 million unique users.

Describing this relatively new form of entertainment as “a global phenomenon," Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos lauded the three-year-old site and compared it to his own company, saying: “Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community.”

It's thought that Google was unable to complete the deal after concern regarding anti-trust issues, reports Forbes. YouTube is already the most popular video site in the world and the acquisition of Twitch might have triggered charges of a video streaming monopoly against Google, with the search giant and Twitch reportedly unable to agree on how to proceed if this happened.

The acquisition by Amazon is widely seen as a complement to its on-demand video streaming service Amazon Prime, which is currently battling with the likes of Netflix to snare audiences in the US and UK and has taken its first steps into commissioning original shows.

However, Twitch will also add to retailing behemoth's nascent gaming sector. Amazon has been slowly building these capabilities over the past few years, acquiring developers such as Double Helix and offering a controller and a limited game selection with its streaming set-top box Fire TV.

Twitch will most likely be at the forefront of this strategy in the future, giving Amazon access to the site's tens of millions of enthusiastic young gamers whose tutorials and live-streamed competitions have made the site into one of the 15 most-trafficked around the world.

Twitch CEO Emmett Shear said the company chose to go with Amazon because “they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster”.

“We’ve created a whole new kind of career that lets people make a living sharing their love of games,” added Shear. “We’ve brought billions of hours of entertainment, laughter, joy and the occasional ragequit. I think we can all call that a pretty good start.”

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