The Rise of Live-Video Streaming Giant Twitch

Photo Courtesy: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Although Twitch boasts that it’s the leading streaming platform for gamers, it's so much more than that. For the unanointed, Twitch is a live-video streaming service and, these days, an Amazon subsidiary. But back in 2011, before the service hit it big, Twitch was a spin-off of the general-interest streaming service called Justin.tv. In a sense, Twitch was like a "channel," and one that focused on video game streaming, like "Let’s Plays" or walkthroughs — viewers watch gamers play through a title — and competitive eSports matches. Now, the platform features a myriad of creative content, "in real life" streams, music broadcasts and a wide range of Twitch personalities akin to YouTube stars.

Although Twitch was meant to be a niche subset of Justin.tv, it gained 45 million unique viewers by October 2013 and, by the following February, it became the fourth-largest source of peak internet traffic in the U.S., falling just behind giants Netflix, Google and Apple. And Justin.tv? It was renamed Twitch Interactive before finally shuttering in August — all of the company’s resources were being poured into Twitch, not any of the other content categories or initiatives. The same month that what was formerly known as Justin.tv ceased to exist, Amazon purchased Twitch Interactive for a staggering $970 million — and the platform became the official live-streaming platform of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the video game industry’s premier trade event. All of these big wins led to even more tremendous growth and, in a year’s time, Twitch boasted a whopping 100 million viewers per month, all of whom were watching content produced by over 1.5 million broadcasters.

By 2017, what was once a niche site eclipsed even YouTube Gaming, becoming the leading live-streaming service for video games in the U.S. Needless to say, Twitch’s rise to popularity amongst gamers and more mainstream viewers (or folks who might identify as "non-gamers") alike happened quite quickly. But why the big uptick in February 2014? We’re not saying it was all thanks to Pokémon, but…the popular franchise did help Twitch catch ‘em all, in a manner of speaking.

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