Twitch (also known as Twitch.TV) is a live streaming platform owned by Amazon, Inc. whose main function is to broadcast live video games, a field in which it competes with YouTube. Presented as a byproduct of another general interest streaming platform, the site primarily focuses on video games, including “playthroughs” of games played by users, eSports streaming, and other video game-related events. The site’s content can be viewed live or on-demand.
By mid-2013, the site was getting an average of 43 million viewers per month, and by February 2014 was considered the fourth largest source of internet traffic in the United States. At the same time, Justin.tv’s parent company was renamed “Twitch Interactive” to represent the shift in its priorities. Justin.tv was shut down in August 2014.
When Justin.tv was launched in 2007 by Justin Kan and Emmet Shear, the site was divided into different content categories. The video games category grew especially fast, and became the most popular content on the site. The platform was an active sponsor of various official tournaments for video games such as Blizzard Entertainment’s Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, one of the most popular competitive games in South Korea, Europe and America, as well as being enjoyable to watch for both enthusiast and casual audiences.
On June 6, 2011, during the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Justin.tv launches Twitch.tv as a beta byproduct focused on eSports. The name is inspired by the term “twitch gameplay” which is used to refer to the reaction time of gamers.
“We designed this site to support the eSports community. Since everyone on the team is a gamer, it’s a site created by eSports fans, for eSports fans.” Emmett Shear, co-founder and CTO of Justin.tv, and CEO of TwitchTV. Twitch has about 80 employees, and is headquartered in San Francisco.
On February 10, 2014, Twitch’s parent company, Justin.tv, Inc. was renamed Twitch Interactive, reflecting the service’s increased importance over Justin.tv in the company’s business. That same month, a stream known as Twitch Plays Pokémon attempted to play Pokémon Red with direct viewer participation, using a system that transformed chat commands into in-game controls, and went viral.
By February 17, the channel had reached more than 6.5 million total plays since its introduction five days earlier, and was averaging 60 to 70 thousand live viewers, with at least 10% of them participating. Vice President of Marketing Matthew DiPietro praised the stream, calling it “an example of how video games have become a platform for entertainment and creativity that extends beyond the original intentions of the game developers.
By convolving a video game, a live video and the participant’s experience, the channel had created a hybrid entertainment exclusive to the Twitch community. This is a wonderful test of a concept we hope to see more of in the future.” Beginning with its 2014 Edition, Twitch became the official live streaming platform of the world-renowned Electronic Entertainment Expo.
On August 5, 2014, the original Justin.tv site was abruptly shut down, stating that all resources should be focused entirely on Twitch. On August 6, 2014, Twitch introduced an updated archiving system to its multi-platform access, highlighting past streams from any channel and giving way to high-quality video, increased servers and a new video manager interface to manage past streams and organize “highlights” of streams; which can also be exported to YouTube.
Due to technological limitations and resource requirements, the new system had some setbacks; the option to archive streams for an indefinite period of time (“save forever”) was removed, meaning that they can only be kept for a maximum of 14 days, or 60 for “partners” and “Turbo” subscribers. Although highlights can be kept indefinitely, they are limited to 2 hours in length.
Also, all on-demand videos became subject to an Acoustic Fingerprinting process using Audible Magic software; if copyrighted music (particularly, songs made by users outside of the game being played) is detected, a 30-minute portion of the song will be muted. Live streams are not subject to these filters.