Google is reportedly in talks to buy Twitch, a videogame streaming service with more than 45 million monthly users, several US publications have reported.
The acquisition would be made through YouTube, which Google acquired in 2006 for $1.65 billion, and would be the most significant purchase the video platform has made to date.
Citing sources “familiar with the pact,” Variety reports that Google has already “reached a deal” to buy Twitch “for more than $1 billion,” while the Wall Street Journal says that “talks are at an early stage” and that “the potential purchase price couldn’t be learned.”
Twitch, which launched in June 2011, has become the most popular service for broadcasting and watching videogames, even supplanting YouTube in terms of live-streaming traffic.
Online video and networking firm Qwilt reported that in the week ending April 7 Twitch accounted for 44 per cent of all live-streaming traffic in the US. The San Francisco-based start-up has also signed deals with both Sony and Microsoft to provide live-streaming services on the PS4 and Xbox One consoles.
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For Google, Twitch could provide a lucrative new stream of ad revenue, attracting a predominantly young audience that consumes content over long sessions, often hours at a time. This compares favourably to the three-minute slices of video more commonly watched on YouTube.
Gaming has also proved to be a natural fit for an internet-savvy audience, with YouTube’s most subscribed channel, PewDiePie, offering video game commentary from 24-year old Swede Felix Kjellberg. More than 26 million YouTube users subscribe to Kjellberg’s channel, generating just under 300 million views in April alone.
Twitch, which used 1.35 per cent of all downstream bandwidth in North America in March 2014, was spun out of Justin.tv, one of the earliest video broadcasting sites online. In September 2013 Twitch earned $20 million from investors.