Miruna Codeanu

Why is Twitch literally a big deal?

In espresso on August 26, 2014 at 9:13 am

twitchPeople who are not into gaming had no idea what Twitch was, until a month ago, myself included. Twitch made it to the public attention when it was believed the company was acquired by Google. Only that Monday this week, Amazon reported to have bought Twitch for almonst $1 billion.

What is Twitch? “Twitch (also and formerly known as Twitch.tv) is a live streaming video platform owned by Amazon.com; introduced in June 2011, the site primarily focuses on video gaming, including playthroughs of video games by users, along with broadcasts of e-sports competitions. Content on the site can either be viewed live, or viewed on an on-demand basis” ( Wikipedia )  Basically, Twitch is a platform where people watch other people play video games, while being able to create their own channels with audio commentary. Most e-competitions are broadcast on Twitch. 

Twitch is huge, reports say, fourth in peak internet traffic, only behind Netflix. A Twitch report claims its users spend more than 20 hours a week watching videos on their site. Obviously, there’s an Ios and Android app for Twitch. The PlayStation4 has a Twitch share button, Amazon’s Tv has a Twitch app.

So, what’s happening?  Last quarter of last year it was the first time people spent more time online than watching tv. Supposing the way people organize their time hasn’t changed much during last years, this could mean the time spent in front of a tv is now time spent online. Which means people are replacing television with something else.

See, I strongly believe any virtual reality is an imitation of live. Our behavioral patterns are translated into online lives. Remember Second Life and its huge success? Remember how people were abandoning their real life and moving into Second Life? Second Life, as its name says was an imitation of real life, a chance to have the ideal life. I’ve probably said it before: any virtual life project will copy offline life, even if the project does not intend to, people will reflect their offline life into their online one. We’re basically moving our offline life into online. We’ve been doing that for some time now. We probably now need online television. We have Netflix, which is growing and we have Twitch, and of course, we have Youtube and other forms of social media with video content.

Of course, I always thought Google and Facebook could use the impressive amount of information they hold on our lives into suggestions based on our preferences and browsing history, and they could therefore, create more targeted television with targeted commercials skipping the irrelevant content television delivers by having a much wider target. Yes, I am thrilled by the idea that could happen and I would like to see it happen. Sure, for the time being it sounds a bit futuristic, but Google is already half there by its Chrome Cast device. Also, Microsoft announced they are preparing a similar device.

Here are two angles for online television: first perspective refers to online television provider generated content while the second one follows the online social media in which the user generates the content. Let’s look at this matter from the first angle, take Google. Google has the necessary information on its users to specifically target television on them. Can Google generate content? Well, for the time being, Google does not own means to generate its own television-like visual content. However, it owns YouTube. Youtube means  user generated content, and it could successfully use the user generated content by YouTube and the information it holds on its users to successfully and efficiently target video content on its users. Besides being a platform where people watch other people, Twitch also enables its users to have their own channels, like their own very targeted televisions, which is something YouTube also does. Twitch is basically user generated content online television.

What’s the importance of Twitch? Why did Amazon and Google fight over Twitch? Twitch is like a little experiment on the future of online television. Google’s interest in online television is quite well known, so is Bezos’ in mass media, Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million. Let’s see how important is Twitch. Twitch was worfth almost $1billion, while The Washington Post was worth $250 million. That itself could teach us a few things about the unlimited possibilities the online world holds. Furthermore, looking at Twitch as an experiment for online television, it can teach us a few things on people’s behavior “in front of” online television. Yes, consumer behavior is crucial to developing future products. In developing online television, Amazon now holds an advantage.

 

Bonus: Ask me guys, you should hire anthropologists to look at the behavioral patterns of those people spending 20 hours or more a week watching Twitch.

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