The Google deal for Twitch.TV, rumbled around in Silicon Valley for months, now finally is cinched at around $1 billion — but not officially announced, according to the tech investor site VentureBeat. If true, the deal would bring into the Google fold one of the biggest sources of online video traffic that isn’t already Google’s YouTube division, which is spearheading the deal. The acquisition also would reinforce how hot the videogame sector has become for online entertainment, as millions of fans watch others play, and sometimes grab their own bit of notoriety by streaming their performances on Internet-connected PCs, the Sony PS4 or the Microsoft Xbox One.
Game-play videos, both live and recorded, already comprise the second-busiest sector on YouTube after music, and have helped drive the visibility of YouTube stars such as PewDiePie, the Swedish player with nearly 29 million subscribers, and the profitability of multichannel networks such as Machinima and Fullscreen.
Twitch specializes in live streams of game play. Click the sharing functions on your next-generation game console (the service is essentially built into both the PS4 and Xbox One) and others can watch as you play. Twitch also has deals with many of the game-related live-event creators, such as the Evolution Championships for fighting games, Guild War 2 tournaments and the Gamestop Expo, as well as with Machinima, which recently announced its own slate of programming on Twitch.
The three-year-old site is backed by several prominent investors, including Draper Associates, Bessemer Venture Partners, Alsop Louie Partners, WestSummit Capital, Thrive Capital and Take-Two Interactive Software.