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YouTube to Acquire Videogame-Streaming Service Twitch for $1 Billion? (variety.com)
403 points by Ocerge on May 18, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 235 comments

It's worth noting that Twitch partially became popular because it wasn't YouTube, and gamers could stream without content restrictions (e.g. copyright and region)

Miraculously, this could end up making YouTube comments even worse.

I agree.

I play an MMORPG called Runescape which has millions of players, I've been playing it since I was 12 and now I'm 21. I stream on Twitch once every few days and frequently have 1,000+ people watching me, subscribing, following and most importably putting eyeballs on Twitch's adverts (which is one of the largest concurrent none-featured community.)

If this happens I lose my anonymity (because Google+) which protects my account details from being stolen. If this happens I lose the ability to stream while playing music in the background, my followers even have the ability to request songs during the stream using an automated service, where does this leave me with regards to copyright then?

Even worse than this though is that if this happens, Google will in some way fundamentally change a service which I and my followers love to use - a service which they don't understand.

I speak for myself as a well known member of this community: If Google buys Twitch, Twitch will die.

This video basically (and very explosively) explains the current thinking of Twitch users: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loeFYdbvrZM (turn down your sound)

I'm really not sure why some of the other comments here are focusing on the playing of music on the stream. Obviously they've never watched someone gaming on twitch. Nobody watches twitch for the music someone is playing. People watch it to see other people play and talk about games. Music may be in the background but is often obscured by dialog and game sounds. It's not even close to the quality a youtube video for music supplies.

Music isn't obviously not the focus of any Twitch stream, but nevertheless, people are breaking copyright laws by playing copyrighted music on their streams. And if Twitch becomes a part of YouTube, they might have to crack down on copyrighted music on streams, due to pressure from the copyright holders.

Moving away from the music for a second, the public streaming of gameplay doesn't constitute copyright infringement? I'm no legal expert but it seems to me a bit of a stretch to call it fair use - especially for single player games.

The game which I play (Runescape) actively supports and advocates streaming of it's gameplay as a way to increase user numbers through popularity.

Music is a good differentiation between streams. When I used to watch a lot of LoL streams that was one of my deciding factors on who to watch. Why watch someone playing all top 40 stuff when there's someone else playing music I enjoy?

Why do you have to use copyrighted background music for streaming of a game?

Because 90% of all music enjoyed by most people is under copyright and searching for music not under copyright that you can listen to and genuinely enjoy is not anybody's idea of a good time.

Nobody wants to worry about this stuff.

As long as the purpose of the stream is not just streaming music i don't see the problem however I'm certain the MPAA and RIAA would not agree.

Why don't people just play the music they want in the background when watching these videos?

Probably because it's a lot more fun to have an interactive player where people can vote what to play.

Beside if you always play the usual 200 songs you listen to when are you going to find new songs to listen to.

Listening to music is a group activity a lot of the times and you find new songs by doing it.

There's only 3 ways to find new songs and 2 of them suck

1. Listening to top hits in hopes that a few match your taste

2. Using recommendation algorithms on Spotify and other streaming sites

3. And the on that give you the best results hanging out with like minded people in real life or on the internet and seeing what their listening to.

Bear in mind, copyrighted music doesn't just mean "Stuff from the top 40s". Music that's in the soundtrack of a game is under copyright.

So the answer to the question "Why do you have to use copyrighted background music for streaming of a game" is "Because playing a game with the volume at zero kind of sucks".

edit: And obviously that's not the entirety of the concern; there are definitely some streamers who play essentially radio music (or anime music or whatever) over the soundtrack on broadcast. I agree that stuff like that doesn't necessarily need to happen. But using a broad brush to say "No broadcasting copyright music on twitchtube" is both not a good idea, and exactly what people are worried will happen.

Because part of listening to music is that I listen to music which I like, which means Rise Against, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, et al.

To be honest, you're living on borrowed time. The only reason twitch would allow this is because it has flown under the radar so far. It's not a reasonable expectation that you can forever have a service that will let you stream copyrighted material to people.

If they are good or not, the laws exist. Once Twich is under Google's umbrella, they will be pressure by the content owners to enforce those copyrights. Maybe that's not happening today because Twich's community is smallish (compared to Youtube) but once they are "integrated" into the copyright notification/enforcement framework, end of story.

what kind of a question is that? Are you a human being?

maybe a restatement of the question would help

why do you expect to be able to broadcast copyrighted music for your own enrichment without paying the copyright holder?

If you are going to use the music to entertain your customers, pay for it like you're supposed to.

How? Reaching contracts with all major copyright owners in order to stream your out-of-garage hobby?

Buying music (I assume that is what you meant), will not let streamers use it, thus there is no meaningful solution as of yet.

Just because contracts are difficult to get doesn't mean you have free rein to do whatever you want. There are plenty of meaningful solutions to this "problem". Don't play music at all. Play music you are allowed to play (be it paid or just music that allows streamers to use it). It may not be what people want to hear, but obviously the music is of value to shanelja's audience as they requesting songs.

That might be a solution, but as OP was saying, that is likely do draw people away.

Get a license with something like ASCAP[1]. I think that's what most businesses using music in a public setting do.

Legally using copyrighted music is not exactly an impossible task. I mean, it's basically the entire business of some radio stations, and some stations are quite small.

Now, is it worth the effort and cost for a Twitch stream? It depends on how much value the music brings. There's also CC or royalty-free music, if a streamer just wants some music playing.

[1] http://www.ascap.com/licensing/licensefinder

That does not give you license to steal other people's content and profit from it.

If you want music but you don't want to purchase rights, there is plenty of creative commons licensed music available.

Why don't you propose a solution?

Why is it that pointing out a problem requires one to provide a solution to that problem or the point is somehow invalid?

Learn to play the harp and compose your own songs.

I think it's important to take notice that Twitch's recent problems (the buffering problem, chat problems, the delay in general) are problems with their ability to cater to the big tournaments which causes me to really not be all that surprised if this turns out to be true.

The ways they've handled the tournaments have really disillusioned many streamers. I don't know if there's any better way for them to have dealt with the scaling problems they faced as I can only imagine the work that must go into supporting a live stream, with real time chat, that has 100k+ viewers (and for some of the bigger tournaments that's a small number). Something like a 30s+ delay in the stream makes it very difficult to have real interactions between the streamer and the viewers which is particularly bad for smaller streams. For the big guys it doesn't matter as much since their interaction is less back-and-forth and more broadcaster in style and there's absolutely no interaction with the tournaments.

The point is that if this is true it really doesn't surprise me at all. And whether or not it is I think there's definitely an opening for some serious competition to Twitch by making a service that is essentially an exact copy but from a business focus standpoint caters more towards the small-to-medium sized streamer and their audience.

Funnily, I remember talking a tech who worked on scaling at Twitch last year, just after the change to the new system. His biggest gripe was with how Twitch struggled with peering agreements, as European ISP's refused the terms Twitch required to get decent performance, so users suffered. Reminds me of the Netflix-Comcast debacle.

Many of the popular streamers on Twitch are homegrown. Their success can be directly attributed to the Twitch ecosystem. They would likely take a big hit if they switched platforms.

Buffering and delays got worse with the launch of PS4 streaming, they're not just due to tournaments. It is true that tournaments are a 'worst case' for them.

Pretty sure the delay in general is due to them moving to a new system about a year or so ago.

It was to fix stuttering. Specifically in Europe.

To clarify, it's not as though Twitch is a magical world free from copyright restrictions. However, youtube's copyright enforcement system is extremely aggressive, overzealous, and a hassle for content creators to deal with. Youtube had a huge flood of takedowns for let's play videos due to mostly bureaucratic reasons rather than actual, legitimate copyright violations, for example. And that is what people are avoiding.

While I do see this being an excellent acquisition for YouTube if true, I do agree. I don't see how YouTube could reconcile it's copyright stance with how Twitch fundamentally works.

IF this is true, I would think a lot of due diligence and legal counsel was discussed before moving forward. Especially with a deal this size. And if that's the case, perhaps YouTube would be adopting Twitch's less restrictive copyright policies. Because otherwise, what else would YouTube get out of Twitch?

Ha. Your naiveté is cute. This deal is all about buying out the competition. It's not about streaming. Youtube could have streaming if they wanted to, without the 1B.

Youtube has streaming. Also probably a bit different target audience and market. Plus, it's likely that they'll just make the sadfucked G+ a requirement and be done with it, no mucking with what works.

If people aren't able to continue streaming their favourite game on Twitch after the acquisition, they will go somewhere else and Youtube will have gained nothing from the deal. It makes absolutely zero sense to buy out a competitor just to drive all their users to a different competitor.

Microsoft did this all the time to protect it's Office, and it worked. I do not think this is meaningless, not very efficient, but gigants can sacrifice efficiency if it helps save their primary revenue.

Exactly. It's about owning the market and removing a potential competitor who saps money from YouTube.

It's a smart move for Google.

And a bad move for the users.

I was thinking more of the market and audience of Twitch. Technology is not a barrier for Google/YouTube. And they could certainly vie for the Twitch audience with a similar product. But Twitch definitely has a head start.

So whether it be for removing a competitor and/or entering a new market, my point is I think a company like Google would have considered copyright issues before doing something like this.

Youtube actually already has streaming, to further prove your point.

Maybe. And maybe RIAA and MPAA would change their stance on DRM and abolish DMCA.

And maybe Elephants will sprout rocket jets and fly into the dark side of Pluto.

It also doesn't fit their app store policy at all, particularly in light of the recent takedowns aimed at guides or utilities for PC games in absence of any copyright claims.

YouTube is a Juggernaut. But Twitch is not, and most of its audience is very young and focused on technology, manly video games. They will move fast. Create the next Twitch now. Wait for YouTube to force content restrictions on the old Twitch. Profit.

And then when you're big, sell out like everyone else.


This could backfire hard, if youtube try to enforce same restrictions to streamers as they enforce to youtube videos, a lot of famous streamers would just jump out to another alternatives like azubu for example.

Agreed. I'm interested to how they will implement copyright issues too.

What I'm also worried about is design changes. YouTube had some poor decisions in this domain and if Twitch experiences stuff like this, it may turn to a rather unpleasant platform.

Well, looks like it's time to start another competitor :)

At least in the Starcraft II scene, Azubu seems to be the new player on the block. They must have some connections or be making some sweet deals, because in a relatively short time they've got several well known streamers using them.

On a back of the napkin calculation, how much outgoing throughput would one need to be able to stream to ten clients directly on say 720p (~30 frames per second)?

I was wondering if it would be possible to create a set up where people can stream from home without any third party in between. Is that even possible for larger audiences?

Twitch currently accounts for ~1.5% of all U.S. bandwidth.

Slightly off topic but If I remember right, about a question of viability someone at Justin.tv (I guess now twitch) said (this is about four years ago) that playing like a thirty second ad clip can more than cover their operational cost of streaming for an hour. I guess what I wanted to hear from that was that streaming is cheap. Scale probably matters a lot though.

Very impressive number. Source?

I find that incredibly unlikely. Do you have a source?

It's mentioned at the bottom of the article, and it links to http://variety.com/2014/digital/news/netflix-youtube-bandwid...

You'd want to do something like HLS which can use standard HTTP but not directly to someone's home. You'd need some sort of CDN or cloud intermediary to handle the load.

Or some sort of peer-to-peer Popcorn time style (Bittorrent Live?[1]) that can distribute the load across all viewers.

Hmm... "Twitch-Time" may be an interesting way to resurrect that service.

[1] http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/15/5414430/bittorrent-live-mo...

Wasn't multicast designed for something like this?

I feel like multicast could solve a lot of similar problems. But not every router on the internet plays nicely with it.

Peer-to-peer streaming doesn't really work well generally, unfortunately.

It inherently increases latency.

This is the kind of thing that MBONE (Multicast Backbone) [1] was created to handle. Unfortunately, due to security concerns over multicast IP and no dedicated support for multiple parties, it died shortly after being birthed.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mbone

A decent quality 1080p stream is around 2Mbps minimum. Your pipe needs to be able to sustain that times the number of clients.

My thought was to piggyback off of web rtc and other free software projects already available just to learn more about it. I'll be pretty happy to just get it working so two clients can watch a stream. I was already looking to learn something this summer so this should be a nice place to start. Thanks!

At this point it's probably a better move to build and then sell/license a streaming service directly to the game publishers. If they provide a streaming system, they can control the copyright directly.

Are you suggesting that thus far that Twitch somehow was exempt from copyright claims?!

It's much, much harder to exert copyright on live content, in contrast to YouTube's ContentID system.

Twitch has taken down streams of unreleased games (which is fair because Twitch makes this rule very explicit), but that's still on an ad hoc basis.

Don't see a YouTube ownership changing that, I assume it'll still be about live streaming.

Large companies tend to err on the side of taking down more than they legally "have to". I know of YouTube videos that were taken down because of copyright claims that were outright false (that is, the entity making the claim didn't even have any rights to the material that was allegedly being infringed). There's a lot of room to be more lenient than YT and still on the right side of the law.

YouTube recently launched a new streaming platform. I don't think it has those restrictions anymore. Their problem has been that they haven't been able to compete with Twitch's community.

Community is a strong word for that shit hole GreyFaceGreyFace

I agree. I hope, YouTube does not change much on the surface. Streamers and viewers are like deer in the night. A flash like integration into Google Accounts would most likely scare them away. I'm sceptical.

They could keep twitch independently running.

First of all, you need Google+ in order to use Youtube (very hard without it) while people just want to watch streams, they don't care about failed social networks. This is why twitch was great.

IIRC (but correct me if I'm wrong), Youtube works just fine without a login; 18+ content, rating and commenting won't work though.

Well its possible, but its certainly not easy. It asks you to merge your G+ account all the time and is generally just annoying.

I ended up creating 3 pages in g+ for my channel that I don't even use, when trying to avoid G+ Youtube integration.

Then I just gave up and merged them.

That’s sad. Less competition, worse both for those watching and making content.

Makers of (gaming-related) content for YouTube – worried about the future of YouTube – have often already been relying on Twitch to provide them some stability, to stand on more than one leg. This competition also insured that YouTube couldn’t do literally anything. Makers of content had a place to go if things didn’t work out.

This is a potentially great move for Google and more specifically YouTube, but I don’t see any upside for anyone else (ignoring those profiting from the sale for the moment).

A lot of my "hardcore" gaming friends have been moving to http://beta.azubu.tv/ with all of Twitch's issues lately.

Azubu doesn't let the general public stream so there is nothing for them to "move" to. I also don't know what azubu's plan is once they run out of money to throw at popular streamers.

Don't forget Kamcord, the other player in this space (and another YC company). Twitch isn't everything.

I'm an avid gamer and this is the first time I've heard about Kamcord, so that's must mean something.

Kamcord is Mobile Gaming focused first, whereas Twitch is on PC~

Who streams mobile games?

Who watches streamed mobile games?

Who fucking _plays_ mobile games?

About 75% of the people on my daily commute.

that promoting an application is hard?

Same here, never heard of it.

From a quick look it is videos, not streaming? Also mobile only? It isn't really currently the same space.


I'd never heard of it so I didn't dig too deep but it seems like a VOD site, not a streaming platform. On the homepage there are zero live channels and nothing mentioned about live broadcasting, only VODs. Had you suggested something like MLG.tv or Azubu, actual Twitch competitors, I don't think you would have been down voted.

I'd guess because nobody has ever heard of Kamcord and you look like a guy trying to plug his company (not saying that's what you are, it's just what it looks like).

Naming alternative services in a news about some other service being bought/shutdown isn't really advertising. It's care.

I don't see how this means less competition. Who else is even directly in the game streaming business?

It’s not all about streaming. Or it can be all about streaming. YouTube and Twitch were very much direct competitors, even ignoring YouTube’s live streaming.

Congrats to Justin and everyone involved in Twitch!

As a side note: most of my friends are LoL fans, and I seriously believe professional gaming will be one of the major professional sports in the next few years, perhaps on the level of Hockey. They're super normal, social, extroverted people - yet they'll interrupt a trip to make us watch a LoL match on Twitch. They all came of it independently too.

I really believe Twitch could have been a big, independent company. They did what they thought was right and I NEVER want to be that guy that craps on acquisitions, but I wish this one hadn't happened. I was rooting for Twitch big time. Still, very happy for them, hope YouTube does this right! I assume if everyone doesn't Riot (pun intended) the technical chops at YouTube will actually make Twitch a much more pleasant place.

Same here.

As a user of Twitch, I do not want this to happen. As a person with common sense, if I had an acquisition offer for $1 billion on the table, I'd sell out so freaking fast.

Compared to recent other aquisitions, 1 billion somehow seems like a bargain. Twitch has clear potential to play an important role in the future in TV and entertainment. Compare that to i.e. Snapchat...

$1 billion but all in cash. Sensible sellers...

Well, the buyer also happens to have plenty cash laying around in offshore locations, waiting to be used for things like this.

Can offshore cash be used for acquisitions without being taxed on repatriation?

it'll be taxed on repatriation, but it doesn't have to be repatriated to be used. if you buy something with foreign cash, it's the seller's job to get it into their country.

How much of a bargain does the original Google acquisition of YouTube, for $1.65 billion, seem today? Less than one tenth of what Facebook are paying for WhatsApp!

YouTube wasn't super huge when Google bought them though, I'd suspect twitch has bigger brand recognition now than YouTube had then.

YouTube was THE online video site back then. Twitch is pretty much unheard of these days by the general public other than people following the PC gaming scene.

In 2006 it was competing with DailyMotion and Vimeo at least.

Besides the two mentioned, the other main competition in 2005-6 for YouTube was Google Videos.

Yes I agree totally. Not to mention the crazy growth of eSports.

I agree actually. I hate it when people compare things to Snapchat like Snapchat is silly (it's not) but Twitch could be HUGE. Like huge huge huge.

That's what I mean. It's not a stretch to imagine average people watching Twitch for hours every day, and happily paying for it. And (e)Sports organizers using Twitch to stream/monetize their events worldwide, bypassing the networks.

There is, of course, that network neutrality issue in the US.


Presently, yes. However, it does not have the same long-term potential as Twitch. Snapchat is ephemeral, a trend.

I think Snapchat might have more staying power than you're giving credit for.

Here's the value of Snapchat: Social interaction without the paper trail.

For years people have been talking about the experience of today's youth who will, by the time they are 20, have thousands of old posts and tweets and blogs and instagrams. How many people have lamented the way these might come back to haunt you 10, 15 years later? It's a warning I gave my (much younger) sister when she got on Facebook at age 13.

Snapchat solves that. Snaps can be saved, sure, but you won't leave the paper trail you do on Facebook.

I personally doubt Snapchat will be a future blue chip on its own. But if they hit a hundred million users... well, we're living in a WhatsApp world. Based on the latest numbers I've seen, I'd guess they're about half way there. If growth is continuing in 2014 the way it was in 2013, they could see 100+ MM in a year.

The only issue is that I can't see how "no paper trail" allows for the current routes of monetisation to work... that said, if they can come up with something different then they've got something very exciting on their hands.

Glad to see you're the leading authority on this matter. Tell me, from whence did you judge that Snapchat is "ephemeral"?

How did you manage to outplay the dozens of very smart, very experienced, and very successful VCs and investors that have spent dozens of man-hours thinking about whether they should or should not dump millions of dollars into Snapchat? You are aware, that, as of now, Snapchat has raised more than $100M total in funding, from initial seed to it's Series C, and that some of the biggest players in SV have offered to buy it for upwards of $4B? I'm quite shocked to see that your little quip regarding it's long-term potential has somehow out-qualified all of this money and time and thought that went into it's current state. Especially since investors value long term potential over everything else : the whole deal with economics is finding value before anyone else does, otherwise you're just a bandwagoner. Early bird gets the worm, so the most successful early birds are those that look the furthest for the worms with the highest long-term potential.

They berated Google for making a bad decision when they acquired YouTube and they called Facebook a trend that was just "MySpace for college kids". Maybe you're not in the right demographic for using Snapchat, so that's why you don't see it's long-term potential?

Large amounts of funding have historically shown little correlation with success.

Really? Can you show me any statistical data for that? Or just anecdotal stuff? Because trust me, there's probably 10x as much anecdotal evidence for companies with large amounts of funding that HAVE had success. Just looking around me at the company-produced products I'm currently using : Apple, Google, Microsoft, IKEA, Black & Decker, Walmart...

You're probably dealing with a lot of confirmation bias.

If not, you're probably going to pull statistical data regarding the dot com bust. Failed companies during the dot com bust were a lot different than Snapchat. They had no users and were funded by clueless empty suits who thought that business success was the combination of a half-assed idea you thought up during dinner and waaay too many code monkeys working on your terrible idea with a forced deadline.

That's not what Snapchat is. Large amounts of funding from very respected investors with high success rates of investment in companies with a lot of users ... show high correlation with success.

Snapchat has a shit ton of users, runs pretty lean cost-wise (low amt of employees, small offices, efficient database/server management, etc.) as any tech company worth a shit these days will run (compared to dot coom bust, that is), continuously rolls out updates and features, and has a lot of funding. All of these very important factors when discussing a company's success.

For every example of a company that has failed with 1. had a shit ton of users, 2. didn't blow it's money on stupid shit like Aeron chairs and way too many employees (as companies during the dot com bust did), 3. has rapid development, and 4. has a lot of funding, there are 1000 companies that has succeeded like that. That's because those things are pretty good determinants of success.

User data is the current currency in Silicon Valley.

When you can't charge users for GET requests and everyone in the nation is too reluctant to spend a penny on iOS apps, the only real source of income for companies that focus on web/mobile markets is advertisement. So you work on optimizing ROI for advertisement. One way of doing such is optimizing user data analysis. Know your users' demands better -- their location, their demographic, their interests -- advertise stuff they're more likely to click on, get paid more by ad agencies. In order to analyze user data, you need, 1. "analyze" : accurate and thorough aggregation algorithms (I'm speculating that this is why Google bought Deep Mind and Zuckerberg/Thiel invested in Vicarious), and 2. "user data" : shit tons of raw data regarding your users.

And companies with a lot of users have a lot of user data. Even if Snapchat advertises ephemerality, they're really storing all of those pics on their database after they're deleted client-side (why else would servers even exist, there's no reason, technically, something like Snapchat couldn't work in pure P2P if you're really getting rid of the user data). Not to mention the metadata regarding your phone number and your friends list. While the first bit of advertisement optimization -- "analyze" -- may seem like it's not good enough at analyzing pictures and social graphs (your friends and your friends' friends and your friends' friends' friends, and your friends' friends' friends that happen to be in your friends and also your friends' friends, etc.) just yet, 1. this is why AI is becoming so popular, and 2. this is the risk the VC is taking by investing in Snapchat. Obviously every sound investment takes some risk, or else it'd be so objectively obvious that everyone would make the investment and you wouldn't get a high ROI.

The risk here is saying "user data in the form of pictures and social graphs, and whatever something like Snapchat can reasonably evolve into if we keep it surviving" is valuable.

What you're saying when you say "large amounts of funding have historically shown little correlation with success", you're talking about clueless, unexperienced investors saying that "my vague business idea when paired with hundreds of programmers and really expensive Aeron chairs is valuable".

Not only is the former much more believable, given the high success of companies that, 1. initially seemed like useless toys to short-sighted people on the Internet, but had a SHIT TON of users and a very fast development cycle and 2. gone from no-revenue to some-revenue YEARS after initial success, this is also a prediction being made by motherfucking Andressen-Horowitz.

So, no, I'd say cases like Snapchat have HIGH correlation with success. Sorry you don't have anyone to sext.

I don't think it not having long term potential is a fact. Let's wait and see what they are planning before making those claims.

It also has no revenue.

This is now probably Y Combinator's largest acquisition!

Biggest out of any incubator ever, if it happens -- beating out Angelpad's Mopub being acquired by Twitter for 350M.

It's interesting that YouTube is acquiring Twitch and not Google. I realize that's sort of a smallish point, but it's interesting how that might be announced officially. Google obviously owns YouTube, but in terms of branding and identity and control, it's interesting.

I think this is not a smallish point. It implies that Twitch will be under YouTube, and not kept independent in parallel to YouTube inside Google. That says something about the plans for integration.

Maybe want to keep video under "YouTube LLC" in case they ever sell, or taxes?

One summer night in 2007, I found myself playing poker with Justin Kan in a living room of the "Y-Combinator" building in San Francisco. Emmett Shear may have been there, but amongst the crowd in the living room was Steve Huffman, who was playing around with a new electric guitar, and Alexis Ohanian who was doodling on paper. I didn't know what reddit was at the time, nor did I know that the acquisition by Conde Nast had occurred -- I only connected the dots a several years later.

After seeing this headline, I can't help but think that the power of networks is real, as is the results of deliberate, focused dedication to one's direction and craft. Pretty awesome stuff, congratulations!

WSJ confirms talks -- "early stage" "deal isn't imminent"


Twitch is massive in the Eve Online community along with other MMOs precisely because it isn't Youtube and allows streamer to play whatever background music they chose.

I can a fairly substantial move away from it if Youtube begin applying the policy that removes all audio, if even a snippet of something copyrighted is detected.tracks for

If confirmed, this would definitely be a smart decision. Twitch will be extremely important in ecosystem development as e-sports break in the mainstream worldwide. Lots of engaged eyeballs.

Google near monopoly on online video market bugs me though, community at large would benefit from multiple players and more competition.

Agreed about the growing e-sports market. Plus the Twitch Plays Pokemon experiment showed how it could break in to the casual market as well.

Not just that, don't the new consoles have options to stream direct to Twitch? I don't remember seeing that option for Youtube...

One will argue that 'e-sports' already peaked in 2002.

Esports is far bigger now than it was 10 years ago. League Of Legends and Dota 2 are far bigger than the audeinces Starcraft or Counterstrike ever generated. Tournaments are now being held on sports stadiums in the US and EU. LoL world championships last year drew 35 million viewers, and filled the Staples Center in LA. The Dota 2 International tournament this year will likely top a $7 million prizepool, and sold out Key Arena in Seattle. Esports is just getting started.

I disagree. Games like Dota 2 and League of Legends are filling sports stadiums and giving out multi-million dollar prize pools these days. If anything, at least in the United States, they are on the rise.

As time goes on the non-gamer generations die off. The gamers grow richer and their willingness to pay increase. The new generations will probably also game.

You're forgetting that people grow out of gaming. Once you have a job and a family, gaming just isn't as fun anymore.

It's still fun, you just don't have the time anymore (I feel really bad if I take out a 3-hour chunk of time to play a game, or a real-time game which demands 1-hour of continuous focus).

Much as I don't play football anymore but still watch it, I also follow some games :) and so do many friends in their late 30s / 40s with families (mostly the same ones as others in the thread, like Magic: The Gathering, League of Legends, Hearthstone, etc.).

They grow out of playing video games perhaps, but there's a whole world of content for folks who still like video games but don't play them as much anymore.

The question isn't whether people will game - the question is whether eSports will continue to grow as it does now. Being a gamer and being into eSports aren't one and the same. I play a lot of games, I don't watch a lot of eSports (it doesn't interest me).

Not that I'm saying the market won't grow - on the contrary, I think it will continue to do so. It's a very small market compared to sports generally ($1 billion would barely buy you a top class sports team, let alone a network like ESPN).

I don't watch sports and I don't watch gaming streams either. But I think it's an interesting phenomenon so I've asked my friends that do why they do it. It seems to be a mix of excitement about what is going to happen and wanting to learn the tricks of the pros. People generally seem like watching sports/esports they themself participate in. I don't see these trends disappearing or diminishing.

Sure, but that may have been just a local peak. "e-sports 2.0" will hit really big, at the scale of social networks. We just need a killer game for the post-pc era.

> We just need a killer game for the post-pc era

Famous last words.

My son watches a lot of Starcraft tournaments on Twitch and his immediate response was that YouTube might actually improve the infrastructure so that they could handle streaming to everyone who wants to watch.


Maybe it's just me, but I associate YouTube video with buffering, overcompression, and popups.

You can disable annotations (popups) on your Account Playback settings page[1]. Typically I have little problem with buffering or low quality unless I'm sharing the connection, but you can adjust the default quality settings on that page too.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/account_playback

That's only if you have an account. Some of us just like to watch an occasional video or two.

Their infrastructure is good enough, they're able to stream to 180k+ viewers in HD without problems.

Big tournaments often refuse HD connections and revert to 720p or 480p ... it's not our Internet connection.

720p is HD though.

Even if it's technically 'hd' 720p is still an ugly rescaling experience.

Geo-wise, I believe they have issues in Europe

Wow - what an amazing ride to acquisition. To think it all started when Justin strapped a camera to his head! Congrats guys!

This is disappointing. YouTube's 'community' is extremely toxic, I can imagine if Twitch is rolled into it, it'll die a long, slow death.

Twitch community is also pretty toxic.

Most of the time the biggest streamers put their chats in sub mode (paying supporters) to avoid it.

The Twitch chat is half the value of the stream-watching experience for me.

The "character" of the Twitch chat is valuable. The manically insane hivemind, with all the juvenilia and "shittiness" that is inherent to it, is a roiling primordial stew of genuinely worthwhile culture. It's the birthplace of memes in both the vulgar sense and the higher sense of that word, and, to me, feels like 4chan in its early days. The ecstatic chaos of the chat during an unmanageably large event is a unique and deeply valuable thing.

It was why Twitch Plays Pokemon was such a massive phenomenon. Channels which set their chats to subscriber-only mode are shooting themselves in the foot.

I've always desperately craved a comparable live mass chat experience for non-gaming-related events, eg during a football game, or a televised cultural event or major news story.

>Channels which set their chats to subscriber-only mode are shooting themselves in the foot.

I think both chat modes (sub and free for all) have their place and time. I enjoy chats that are put into sub-mode, just to read a sensible conversation and have the streamer answer interesting questions, that she otherwise wouldn't have picked up on. On the other hand, some stream chats live off of the chaos that is twitch chat.

Good point. I would amend that to "large events and tournaments with subscriber-only chats are poisoning their own hype."

It's called twitter.

Recently I noted an anecdotal improvement: more gamers seem to be saying that a winning player "shit on" another player instead of saying they "raped" them.

And why is that better? After you think of an answer, replace occurrences of "rape" with "shit on" and you'll have my counter-argument.

It can be, what people describe it as though is it is the digital equivalent to going to for example a football game. There is going to be a lot of toxic statements/ yelling made there as well but overall it adds to the hype of the event.

If you are watching a match with 100k people on Twitch of course there isn't going to be any valuable back and forward in chat but the chat stream as a whole adds to the experience.

Seems a bit like Something Awful. They have a one time fee before you can post anything.

I've seen this model successfully used on a variety of small and medium sized communities, Metafilter likely the largest example. While it doesn't seem to generate runaway fortunes, it allows online communities to survive the onslaught of spam and trolls.

If you go by the content and style of comments on both, I think they're perfect for each other...I'm sure I'm not the only one with that sentiment.

If they do acquire Twitch I hope that they still let it run separately and just improve the back end (as while it has improved it still lags for a lot of people around the world).

I worry if they tried to roll it into youtube that it would turn people away. Their numbers are pretty dependent on a small number of League/ Dota/ Hearthstone and a few other games casters and steamers.

I agree, Twitch livestreams is unwatchable for me most of the times I have tried to use it.

Youtube on the other hand, while available, have worked quite good.

It's funny that my experience is the complete opposite, I wonder if it's just our confirmation bias, or the fact that we are too small a sample. It could also be that us being in different countries (I assume) impacts a lot in our experiences.

I didn't provide enough information, streaming from both Twitch and Youtube works flawlessly from London where I am located now.

Yeah, different countries/ providers really impacts peoples experience. On the whole it does seem to be better for more people now though.

Here in France both twitch and youtube are both unusable if you're using some providers like Free.

There's something wrong on your end because Twitch's streams haven't had problems since they introduced the 30 second delay last year.

I wonder how companies like Sony feel about this considering a part of their service is now owned by Google.

I hadn't even considered this, as both the PS4 and Xbox One have stuff in the core system for streaming to twitch (though PS4 also has UStream IIRC). That's an... interesting wrinkle.

Yes, this could be really interesting. Microsoft's Xbox One has Twitch integration, while Google refuses to make a YouTube app for Windows phone. I could imagine Microsoft looking for alternative streaming services.

I hate YouTube with a passion, this is terrible news for Twitch users. YouTube is absolutely dreadful and makes design decisions that just go against common sense. This is a terrible loss. :/

Will I still be able to see Twitch streams on my PS4? Blergh.

Semi-related question... Do you know who came up with an idea of allowing companies to own other companies (and when)?

Probably at the same time corporations were granted legal personhood.


In most free countries, things are allowed by default. If you want to restrict something, then the onus is on you to pass a law.

So if I want my chair to own a website and collect revenue from ads it can? And I won't be taxed a penny since it's not me who earns this money?

Twitch has rapidly become the site I stay on the longest, mostly for Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering streams. It's the first time I enjoy watching a "sport" live. Just a few hours ago I decided to pay for a Twitch account in order to not see ads, something I wish YouTube would allow me to do (I don't want to use AdBlock, because I think it's unethical).

I hope that if this is true, it's a feature that YouTube will copy and not one that will be disabled in the future.

I didn't find pricing on the Twitch site. But for 9$/month (looked it up), i'd probably pay for YouTube to, if that means more copyrighted content is available to me with no ads

Since this is unconfirmed, we added a question mark to the title.

Surely, YC knows whether this is true or not :)

But in all seriousness, shouldn't it just say the original title - "YouTube to Acquire Videogame-Streaming Service Twitch for $1 Billion: Sources". The Sources implying it's not publically confirmed, right?

That headline still seems overstated given that other stories are contradicting it.

I suppose I should mention that I have zero information about this, other than what's appeared on HN.

Fair enough - I've just seen the contradicting stories as well. Would this fall under sensationalist or link-bait then?

I'm not sure. A lot of this is guesswork.

Why on Earth would Twitch let themselves be bought by a company that was in the news just a few months ago for systematically destroying the Let's Play community?

Let's not pretend, many of us would do the same. Many people would quickly forget their opinion for $1M. And we are talking a billion. Can't judge those guys.

It kind of makes me sad to think of all the bad things I would do/let happen for $1 billion, or even $1 million.

I'd do a lot of bad things for a few millions. I do believe I'd spend a large part of the rest of those billions making things right. I hope.

For reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Let%27s_Play_%28vi...

I would argue that if twitch got big enough, they would have to deal with the same issues YouTube does today.


a billion all in cash

A lot of people are saying this is a bad move because insert reason that contradicts YouTube's existence. But consider Tumblr's sale to Yahoo! and nothing changed. Google bought YouTube when Google has 1% of the internet traffic. YouTube already had 6% [2006] (and is the worlds most popular site per unique visitors).

To be honest, I'm surprised MSFT didn't try to buy them first.

Does anyone roughly know what Twitch's revenue/profitability is? I know that they're pretty profitable, but I'm not sure to what extent.

1 billion USD seems somewhat low considering Snapchat was valued at 3.5 billion, and I'm pretty sure their revenues are non existent in comparison to Twitch's revenues.

Wow, congrats to the Twitch team!

Here's an idea: Google buys Twitch and shuts it down. Thus making people go directly to YouTube to stream.

But something more realistic is they buy Twitch and then integrate it into YouTube so everyone has to use YouTube to stream everything. Smart.

> Reps for YouTube and Twitch declined to comment.

Yeah. I call this just a rumor.

...a publicly traded company like Google is not going to comment on acquisition rumors, for many, many reasons. Variety normally has good sources - if they're reporting it, a deal is almost certainly being discussed. Maybe it won't complete, but this isn't some random posting on Secret here.

Your comment made me wonder. Is there any site where people (users or editors) track and check up on predictions like this made by various media outlets?

I'd find it really helpful if I could point to a database showing that Variety or WSJ had a 90%+ accuracy in predictions like this, whereas another site might have a 50% accuracy.

Actually, a study on this just came out: http://www.bus.umich.edu/ConferenceFiles/2014-Mitsui-Finance...

From a 3rd party summary: "...Kenneth Ahern at the University of Southern California and Denis Sosyura at the University of Michigan, reviewed 2,142 articles written about 501 rumors between 2000 and 2011. Of those rumors, only 167 were followed by a public bid for the company. The Wall Street Journal was the most prolific publisher of such articles, with 158 during the time period. It was followed by Dow Jones Newswires with 67 and the New York Times with 38.

“The rumors published in the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones News Service are also more accurate than the average rumor, with accuracy rates of about 39%, compared to 33% for the average rumor,” wrote the researchers. “In contrast, the Los Angeles Times and NYT Blogs have accuracy rates less than 20%.”

The thing is that this report is that it is being discussed, that doesn't mean it will complete, and if it doesn't then this would lower Variety's "accuracy" %, even if they were entirely accurate about the discussion going on.

Declining to comment literally doesn't mean anything. They are not saying yes OR no, possibly because as a big company you need to weigh up various effects of making public statements that might seem trivial to the lay-person.

The opening words of the article are:

> Google’s YouTube has reached a deal to buy Twitch

This means that the deal is done! Then there is no point in not commenting.

Time for for Twitch V.2. in my opinion.

There is so much copyrighted material on Twitch streamed by users, whether it games, music etc that it would throw youtube TM-auto filter into overdrive.

Ironically, most copyrighted music on twitch is basically a background process of a youtube video playing.

Justin Kan = 2 acquisitions in 2014. Not a bad result.

Has anyone else done that?

I know of some Twitch streamers who migrated to Twitch entirely and stopped using YouTube because of what it had turned into. Where will they go to now?

If Youtube screws this up and drives away the users, there will likely be an alternative that rises. That's how Twitch got so big, so it might be able to happen again.

After reading this headline my first reaction was a verbal "aww man!" I don't really know why. Is it that I don't trust google? Maybe, but I think it's more that I like supporting the little guy and not the BnL's of the world. When I hear of an acquisition like this, thinking of Valve, I fear the brands I love will never be the same.

Newbie question here. How can youtube acquire things? Wasn't youtube acquired by google? So isn't it google acquiring?

Was Twitch a YC company?

Justin.tv was part of the summer 2007 y-combinator batch (with dropbox and disqus among others). Twitch branched off of justin.tv a few years ago (I think technically part of the same legal entity at the moment but I'm not sure- they were trying to separate the infrastructures etc. when I left). Emmett, the CEO of Twitch, is also a partner at Y-combinator if that hasn't changed.

Twitch is (was) Justin.tv which is a YC company.

They spun off of Justin.tv, which was in YC summer 07.

You now need a Google+ account to spam Kappa

And in before every popular channel gets shut down for copyright infringement...

You already need to link with a Facebook account to post on the biggest channels.

This tweet from a friend I assumed hated YouTube and loved Twitch sums up why this might actually be a home run https://twitter.com/macpheed/status/468237136882597888

Why is this labeled a "YouTube acquisition" instead of Google?

Justin Kan is now going to be pretty rich. Good for him. Congrats!

My guess is that people who fled from Youtube to Twitch will just move on to other streaming sites, which in turn just helps to splitter up various communities even more.

Twitch.tv + Google Glass will be interesting.

This will be interesting given the recent Google Plus integration into YouTube. Will the same happen to Twitch?

I wonder how many more months I have until I'm required to use a Google+ login to chat on twitch.

Does anyone have any other confirmation of this? Seems like a crazy rumor, but... maybe?

It seems logical, i noticed more articles concerning Twitch. So probably Google picked that up in their big data analytics.

An acquisition would seem logical then.

curious is Twitch is seeing the writing on the way wrt net neutrality? They see big fees incoming from the ISP's to stream their content and decide to get under Googles wing now...

Congrats to Justin and co... including ycombinator. Big exit.

Surely this is a massive competition concern and should be blocked on such grounds?!

There aren't many barriers to entry in this field though. It's not a situation like a utility/ISP where you can only feasibly have one last-mile connection due to permits or limited radio spectrum. It's not even something like a nuclear reactor which costs $10B and a decade before you can flip the switch.

I'm not saying I could build a streaming site in my closet this weekend, but it's not impossible for competitors to enter the space (or existing competitors to grow in the space) so long as Google/YT doesn't too anything too anti-competitive.

I have to disagree with this strongly. There are significant economies to scale in any streaming service. For example, in terms of costs (streaming services require a lot of hardware). But also in terms of branding and reaching a critical mass in terms of content.

Why is this worth $1bil?

It's the largest streaming site in the world and could possibly be making 10 figures / year. YouTube isn't dishing out money just because they are really nice people.

I don't know what this means to my startup Shou.TV

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