Twitch (also known as twitch.tv) is an American live video streaming service company and platform, operated as a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Twitch was founded in June 2011 by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear as a spin-off of Justin.tv. The platform operates as a gaming streaming platform with a range of topics and personalities including eSports, live sports, online gaming, and just-chatting video. The platform was created as the gaming platform for Justin.tv, but since has grown to include other interests and topics.
Sara Clemens is the current CEO of Twitch, since taking the role in January 2018. Twitch.tv was purchased by Amazon on August 25, 2014 for $970,000,000 USD, with the name Justin.tv being discontinued in the acquisition. The service accounted for 40 percent of all livestreaming traffic in the US in 2014 (only behind Google) and reached an average of 15 million daily viewers by 2019.
Twitch was founded in 2011 as a spin-off of Justin.tv, which began as a streaming services created by founders Justin Kan, Emmett Shear, Michael Seibel, and Kyle Vogt. Justin.tv functioned similar to how Twitch would later work, with only a few people being able to be able to broadcast, but later opened to more people. Each account on Justin.tv was known as a channel, and the platform allowed users to stream live content through broadcasts, and these streams could be broadcast from phones, computers, and gaming consoles, similar to how Twitch functions.
During this early period, the Justin.tv platform divided its content into unique categories, in which founders Kan and Shear noticed the fastest growing category was gaming, and specifically, e-sports. This led to the development of the platform, TwitchTV, in June 2011, which was designed specifically for gaming content, with the name "twitch" a reference to the term "twitch gameplay," considered any situation or challenge in a video game that tests a player's reaction time.
Twitch grew in its first year, seeing over 3 million unique visitors per month, and by 2012 grew to 20 million unique visitors per month. In 2014, the platform grew to over 55 million unique viewers, tuning in to watch various gaming streams. This meant Twitch, at this point, made up 1.8 percent of peak internet traffic, more than Hulu, Facebook, Valve, or Amazon.
In August 2014, Twitch was purchased by Amazon for $970 million, to become a subsidiary of Amazon, which previous to the purchase already owned Reflexive Entertainment and Double Helix Games, other video game services. Previous to its purchase, which had included a bidding war between Amazon and Google, Twitch had acquired GoodGame Agency, a company that owned e-sports teams such as Evil Geniuses and Alliance. And Twitch acquired Curse Inc., a network of gaming sites, for an undisclosed amount.
In 2016, Twitch added a new feature known as "cheering," which is a special form of emoticon purchased as a microtransaction using Twitch's in-site currency, known as "Bits." In "cheering" a viewer donates those Bits to a streamer. And in the same year, Amazon released Prime Gaming, which gave Amazon Prime members exclusive Twitch benefits, such as additional emotes and the ability to subscribe to one streamer per month.
Since then, and with the continuing popularity of Twitch, the company began offering valuable perks through their services, such as ad-free streaming, discounts on game purchases, and free in-game content known as "loot" for popular games. As well, Twitch made deals with prominent streamers on the platform and began to make deals with Blizzard Entertainment, becoming the exclusive broadcaster of certain Blizzard eSports events and the official streaming partner of the Overwatch League in 2018.
In May 2020, Twitch launched a Safety Advisory Council, made up of streamers, academics, and policy institutes, and was tasked with creating rules and guidelines to moderate the platform, protecting users' safety and privacy, and collecting suggestions and feedbacks from marginalized groups to create a better experience for the user base.
Twitch makes up a major marketshare of livestreaming, including a broad range of broadcasters, viewers, advertisers, communities, and games. The platform reached 3.8 million unique broadcasters over February 2020, and 1.44 million concurrent viewers on average as of March 2020. League of Legends is the most-viewed game of all-time on Twitch, with over 29 billion views as of April 2020.
According to TwitchTracker, the number of average monthly broadcasts on Twitch has risen from 300,000 in 2012 to 3.84 million in 2020. Average concurrent channels have also risen from 2,200 in 2012 to 56,400 in 2020.
Twitch is mostly used by males, with a 2017 ComScore report showing about 81.5% of its user base were men. Half of those men were between the age of eighteen and thirty four. The male-female split has decreased recently, with the gender split falling to 65%-35% male-female by the second quarter of 2019.
Twitch is monetized through multiple income channels, including advertising, subscription fees, and percentages from in-app currency. The platform gained an estimated $1.54 billion in 2019, with over $300,000,000 USD coming through advertising. Advertising is shown before, during, and/or after streams. Twitch's on-site currency, "Bits," allows viewers to purchase livestream features including shout-outs, more noticeable messages, and special chat gifs and emojis.
Twitch has two subscriptions models, Twitch Turbo and Amazon's Twitch Prime, which allow viewers to subscribe to individual channels, support their preferred streamers, and view streams with no ads or pre-roll advertisements. Subscriptions allow consumers access to certain subscription-only streams and chats.
Twitch Prime is included with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video account, which cost $12.99 and $8.99 per month respectively. Twitch Turbo costs $8.99 per month.
The platform estimates 62 percent of viewers engage with eSports or gaming personalities through chat or other avenues daily, with over 70 percent of those offering monetary support for their streamers. In addition, a Nielsen report shows 64 percent of gaming audiences purchase products recommended by broadcasters, which are often linked to Twitch's parent company Amazon for purchase.
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