[Update: Amazon has confirmed the purchase for $970 million].
Amazon may be in late-stage talks to acquire game livestreaming firm Twitch, according to a report in The Information.
The jockeying over Twitch reveals the value of live Internet streaming and the rise of competitive gaming as a spectator sport. That has enabled Twitch to grow to tens of millions of monthly active streamers and viewers. We reported earlier that Google had signed a deal to purchase for $1 billion in a bid to expand its influence is gaming as an addition to its YouTube gaming empire. But the companies didn’t announce the final agreement, and that may have created an opening for Amazon to come back into the bidding.
GamesBeat has asked Amazon, Google, and Twitch for comment. We’ll update this story as necessary. Amazon made its intention to be a major player in gaming clear in a recent interview with GamesBeat. We have not heard why the Google deal has not been announced or if a bidding war is taking place.
Variety first reported the Google-Twitch deal back in May. Google acquired YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion.
San Francisco-based Twitch enables people to broadcast their own gameplay sessions on the PC, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4 to online viewers. This helps both competitive gamers and average players to gain fleeting fame by entertaining online spectators, who sometimes number in the millions. In March, Twitch represented 1.35 percent of all Internet traffic, according to Sandvine.
Last month, Twitch said it had more than 50 million monthly active users and more than 1.1 million members who broadcast videos each month. Back in June 2011, Twitch had just 3.2 million monthly active users. Twitch also distributes shows from partners including CBS Interactive’s GameSpot, Joystiq, and Destructoid, all gaming-news sites. People watch more than 13 billion minutes of video per month on Twitch.
YouTube is the No. 1 platform for Internet video, serving more than 6 billion hours of video per month to 1 billion users worldwide. But most of those videos are uploaded.
Twitch began in June 2011 by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear, cofounders of Justin.tv. The site was one of the first to host livestreams, or real-time videos of something that was happening at that moment. Shear is still CEO of Twitch.
Twitch has raised about $35 million from Bessemer Venture Partners, Alsop Louie Partners, WestSummit Capital, Take-Two Interactive Software, Thrive Capital, and Draper Associates.