Twitch.tv: The Dark Horse for Online Video Streaming

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Television is on the slide. There has been an anecdotal evidence for a while — and more recently, actual evidence — that the traditional broadcast companies are losing eyeballs. Particularly, they’re losing out on younger viewers, which is by and large where advertising yields the biggest return. But while bigger services like YouTube, Netflix and Hulu would spring to mind as likely culprits, there’s an even bigger threat: Twitch.tv.

Twitch.tv is a streaming website that archives the content posted by its users. The secret of its success is the highly engaged gaming community that has gathered around Let’s Plays, Speedruns and playthroughs. Realizing the power of the site, some game developers have gone as far as implementing a one-click “stream to Twitch.tv” button, to get their game in front of viewers.

This kind of implementation has shown amazing results and viewers are flocking to Twitch. According to Twitch’s year-end report, 68 percent of its users reported a decrease in their TV watching habits in favor of watching Twitch instead. And they’re spending longer on the site. The average viewer watched 85 minutes of content in 2012. In 2013, viewing time increased to 106 minutes.

Netflix, Hulu and YouTube might be sweating a little. Twitch has 45 million unique viewers per month compared to Hulu’s 30 million and Netflix’s 34.7 million. While YouTube still dominates online video with more than 1 billion unique monthly views, the average viewer only stays on the site for 15 minutes.

Video games at large are starting to take over from television as the time killer (or filler) and the engagement of the Twitch community shows the growing trend away from television networks. Grand Theft Auto 5 grossed over $1 billion in just three days, making it the fastest selling entertainment product to date. Twitch’s success is a sign of the times, if not the coffin they’ll bury television in. Viewers are looking for video game content, and Twitch has it in spades.

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