Twitch announced the news of its acquisition by Amazon on its blog on August 25. The $1 billion purchase of Twitch may be Amazon’s largest buy in its 20-year history. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that, much like Twitch, Amazon is very customer-obsessed, and he believes that Amazon can help Twitch continue to grow. It is also speculated that Amazon’s interest in Twitch (a service which offers live-streaming events, making it a direct competitor to Google’s streaming video service, YouTube) is not limited to the gaming aspects of the service.
As for Twitch’s official response to the partnership, representatives for Twitch wrote, “We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster. We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.”
The deal between Twitch and Amazon will give Twitch access to the same broad subscriber base and advanced technologies as a partnership with Google would have offered. Google purchased YouTube in 2006, and a union between Twitch and YouTube could have easily united live and amateur filmography efforts in a powerful way. According to network research company DeepField Inc., Twitch is the fourth largest source for Internet traffic in the United States.
Twitch’s partnership with Amazon also makes sense when taken into account how many programmers Amazon has hired in the past year. The development of the company’s games and mobile offerings complements the Fire TV. A dedicated controller has even been released to accompany apps and games for the set-top offering.
Amazon, having recently released the Fire Phone, may find Twitch’s subscriber base and online gaming technology a welcome boost to its already in-place efforts to secure a foothold in the video game and entertainment industries. Amazon Video and Amazon Prime have positioned themselves more and more in the foreground of streaming media, with Amazon’s streaming device Roku seeing a upswing in popularity in the race for home entertainment options against Netflix, Chromecast and Apple TV.
Amazon’s Roku and Fire TV are sizable offerings in the area of streaming media. Roku comes equipped with over 1,700 apps, impressive streaming speed, an incredible diversity in search options for programming, and what reviewers at CNET describe as a low-pressure, friendly, “come-one-come-all” feel that is more welcoming than competitors such as the Apple TV or even the Fire TV. Roku even offers an option to mute the television by plugging headphones into the remote.
Likewise, Amazon’s Fire phone comes stocked with apps that revolutionize sharing, shopping and connecting with products and brands. The phone competes directly with other popular mobile devices and shows that Amazon is ready to claim its place among the top contenders in online commerce, entertainment and vital technologies.
It makes sense, then, for Amazon to want to bridge the gap between the gaming community and its already robust sales and service platform. If the merger between Twitch and Amazon is successful, Amazon will make itself more accessible and native to an industry that has steadily outpaced the earnings for both television and film in the past two years.
By Mariah Beckman