Twitch Interactive is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. based in the United States of America, and operates twitch.tv, a live video streaming service. According to Forbes, in January 2020 Twitch owned 73% of the streaming market share, with YouTube, Facebook, and the now-defunct Mixer owning most of the remaining market share.
Origins of Twitch
Twitch began in 2011 as a spin-off website of Justin.tv, and eventually eclipsed its predecessor in popularity, and the parent company that operated both Justin.tv and Twitch.tv rebranded as Twitch Interactive. Justin.tv began as an experimental “lifestreaming” project by founder Justin Kan, who began broadcasting his everyday life 24/7 on the public internet, stopping only for bathroom and bathing breaks.
The platform later evolved to include other channels, and eventually opened itself up to signups from the general public.
In February 2014, the crowdsourced stream Twitch Plays Pokémon, in which users controlled /Pokémon Red/ through chat messages, went viral, and Twitch grew rapidly. By mid-February, Twitch Plays Pokémon reached 6.5 million total views, and Twitch earned the attention of the major players of Silicon Valley.
When Was Twitch Purchased By Amazon?
After an unsuccessful bid by Google to purchase Twitch, Amazon.com, Inc. purchased Twitch Interactive in August 2014 for $970 million, the same month that Twitch Interactive shuttered Justin.tv for good to focus its resources and brand on Twitch.
Who Runs Twitch?
Emmett Shear continued as Chief Executive Officer after Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch Interactive. In January of 2018, Shear was joined by Sara Clemens as Chief Operating Officer. Clemens’ past experience included LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Pandora.
How Twitch Has Changed Since Amazon Purchased It
Since Amazon’s acquisition, Twitch has experienced steady growth, and have made several acquisitions themselves through the years. Twitch acquired GoodGame Agency in 2014 (although by the end of 2016, Amazon had divested it), Curse, Inc. in 2016, ClipMine in 2017, and Internet Games Database in 2019.
With the rise of competitors such as Mixer, Facebook Gaming, and Youtube’s increased focus on live content, Twitch began signing top streamers to exclusivity deals. The deals were in part a reaction to Mixer, Microsoft’s now-defunct Twitch rival, signing exclusivity deals with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, pulling them away from the Twitch platform.
With Twitch’s growth came with more scrutiny. Through the years, in compliance with the United States government’s complex copyright laws, in particular the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Twitch has increasingly issued DMCA “strikes” and bans to streamers for violating the DMCA law. While streamers focused initially on not playing copyrighted music on stream, the DMCA strikes began coming from in-game music and sound effects as well, which left many streamers confused and frustrated, and others outright banned from Twitch.
While exclusivity deals and DMCA strikes have hurt Twitch’s overall reputation among its community members, the platform continues to thrive. As of this writing, Twitch boasts a daily viewership of about 15 million people.
How Much is Twitch Worth?
According to Needham analyst Laura Martin, Amazon’s collective media assets, which are primarily made up of Prime Video and Prime Music along with Twitch, are worth approximately $50 billion, which Twitch itself valued at about $15 billion.
From its nascency, Twitch redefined what could be considered a part of the entertainment industry, and what was possible through live video on the internet. The site has grown from modest beginnings into the leader in its market.