This week, whispers grew into a roar as rumors, speculation, tentative confirmation, and discussions popped up surrounding a particular bit of news: according to the Wall Street Journal, Youtube is in early talks with popular streaming website Twitch in hopes to add them to the ever-growing Google family. The Variety reports that one billion dollars in cash is on the table, with a public announcement of the deal looming ever-closely on the horizon (‘imminent’, they said).
As of now, no official announcement has been made by either Google or Twitch.
The news of the alleged buyout (or at the very least, the talks surrounding it) hit the internet presses on May 18, via both the Wall Street Journal and The Variety, and it didn’t even take a day for the internet to react. Articles popped up on sites such as Kotaku, TechCrunch, and The Escapist, with the hashtag #RIPTwitch top trending on Twitter as users and viewers alike voiced their opinions and frustrations on the subject.
The overall response to the news was, as expected, mixed.
Some commentators, such as PCWorld’s Hayden Dingman considered the prospect of Google buying out the streaming service as “a good thing”: “Let’s get this straight: Twitch is not a good service,” he wrote, “Twitch was never meant to grow as big as it is–the fourth-largest source of traffic on the entire Internet. Twitch needs help. Twitch is the de facto standard for games streaming not because it’s an incredible platform, but because it’s the only platform of any real merit.”
However, others, such as Forbes Contributor Paul Tassi, are more skeptical of the deal, worrying about strict copyright infringement policies, region-locking of particular content, and potential monopolies: “If [Twitch] could continue its current trajectory, with Google merely providing technical and financial support to further its growth, few would object to that,” he said, “But Google becoming an even larger monopoly in yet another aspect of the web is a worrying notion, as is their past history of overzealous copyright enforcement.”
Gamers on Twitter via the hashtag #RIPTwitch have also expressed concerns regarding Google’s own history with streaming technology, and what it means for future streaming on Twitch.
That aside, the question remains: Why did Twitch choose Google, after allegedly turning down similar offers from other companies, including Microsoft?
No one is certain of the exact circumstances surrounding these talks, or the reasons behind the companies’ actions, though there are proposed theories: Eliminating the competition is one, as well as Twitch’s own status as a young company with a rapidly growing userbase and bandwidth usage. After its start in 2011, Twitch has gained 43 million monthly users, who, according to Twitch, watch an average of an hour and a half of streamed video per day.
“[Twitch] became a commercial business so rapidly that they weren’t prepared and they didn’t have the resources,” Technology analyst James McQuivey said, “When Google wants to care about the outcome of your business … it ends up being a really good deal.”
As it is, though, no official announcements from either party have been made. More information will come as the situation develops, and updates will be given accordingly.