History of Twitch
Platform Twitch has been occupying a leading position in the sphere of video game broadcast for quite some time now. The interesting fact is that its founders initially planned to create a completely different project, aimed at the so-called lifecasting. Today we will tell you everything you want to know about how this project was formed and developed.
In 2007, when streaming technologies were far below today's level, four aspiring entrepreneurs came up with a risky idea. Justin Kan, Emmett Shear, Michael Seibel and Kyle Vogt decided to set up some kind of a live reality-show, where one of them would broadcast his personal life 24 hours per day (a so-called lifecasting). Justin Kan was the one to do that, and that's why the project was called after him — Justin.TV, always carrying the video camera around and never turning it off, even at night during sleep. The rest three of them were busy working on technological aspects of the plan and tried to find the ways to improve it.
All four of them dreamt of launching a successful project, and they had everything to make this dream come true. Emmett Shear and Justin Kan, for example, both attended schools for gifted children and then successfully graduated from Yale University. Apart from that, they have already had a valuable experience in developing and implementing business-projects. Being the last year students, they developed Kiko app that was eventually sold for $ 250 000. It was then that Emmett Shear realized he wanted to become an entrepreneur and start his own companies in the future.
A lot of unusual situations have happened at the time when Justin Kan has broadcasted his life. Many times he was pranked by his viewers, and some of the jokes were quite awful. For instance, on 21 March, 2007, the police officers broke into his apartment after receiving a report of the stabbing, which was made by one of Justin's viewers. On the next day, someone turned to the fire station because of the inexistent fire in his apartment.
Soon Justin.TV founders realized that the broadcast of Justin Kan’s everyday life is not the best business decision. Moreover, viewers reacted differently that it was initially expected, and most streams of Kan were simply uninteresting to watch. It was then that users started asking the developers to give them an option of beginning their own live streams. Justin.TV owners quickly reacted to those requests, and soon everybody was given a chance to launch their own stream. Service was greatly modified as well, from then on it included different sections and categories, where users’ streams were sorted out. Kan, in his turn, decided to stop broadcasting his life.
Josh Kappa was one of Justin.TV employees (worked on the chat for the website)
However, these new functions made the life of Justin.TV owners considerably more difficult. Firstly, property rights were violated by the users who were streaming the content without getting permission. Secondly, their servers couldn’t cope with constantly increasing number of viewers. And lastly, there were a few extremely unpleasant incidents as, for example, an online suicide commitment by a 19-year-old student. All of these things turned Justin.TV into the subject of relentless criticism.
The solution had always been there. Most of Justin.TV users loved video games, and in fact the entire project revolved around gaming. Justin Kan has decided to set up another website called Twitch, trying to ease the load on the servers. Justin.TV concentrated on the webcasting, whereas Twitch aimed only at games. And the last one looked a lot better. Probably, it was due to the fact that Twitch was constantly developing in a competition with YouTube. Besides, Justin.TV owners still had the problems with pirated content, and it was clear that gaming and eSports were a lot more promising.
Less than a year after the launch of Twitch, the number of its viewers has exceeded 20 million people. The owners of the platform were perfectly aware of the fact that broadcasts of famous personalities and well known players can make the viewership even higher. In order to bring them in, they made it possible to make money via Twitch. Stars of gaming industry who were interested in stable income joined, and the numbers grew. Apart from that, there were the advertising companies that started paying their attention to the platform. The contracts and agreements with them turned Twitch into a powerful marketing tool. Soon even more streamers joined, seeing Twitch as their full-time work and main source of income (there were around 4 000 of them in 2011.) Emmett Shear commented: “We established the partners program to enable anyone who was really successful to make money on our site, and that was huge for fuelling our growth.”
Twitch owners always had a special attitude towards eSports. In 2012 they were one of the first to officially broadcast World Cyber Games. Generaly, eSports community accepted Twitch very warmly right away. Such titles as, for example, League of Legends, Counter-Strike and Dota 2 have always been extremely popular among the viewers. Eventually, other video game developers that regarded their projects as eSport titles, created their official channels there, giving users more options to choose from as well as promoting their own products. Twitch founders, in their turn, often sponsored different tournaments and eSports organizations.
Thanks to the efforts of Emmett Shear, Twitch has been integrated into Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles. Later, smart phone versions for iOS and Android came out as well. Origin, Uplay (by Ubisoft) and all the other software were also supplied with the function of live broadcast based on Twitch. In 2012, Emmett Shear stated "Every platform where people watch video, we want to be there.”
In 2013, Own3d.TV was shut down, basically making Twitch a monopolist in video game broadcast sphere. It is the service that has grown incredibly fast and brought in huge number of advertisers and sponsors thanks to its huge viewership. That’s why the announcement of Amazon’s takeover of Twitch for nearly $ 1 billion came as no surprise. By the way, even before that, some rumors about Google lining up the offer were widespread as well. It was then that Justin.TV was shut down without any warning. It has been done, of course, to let the owners concentrate all their resources on Twitch.
Right now, Twitch is used by nearly 100 million people. Statistic says that around 60 % of them spend around twenty hours a week on watching streams. Twitch has become the biggest eSports-related website, and it sees two million new streamers joining the platform each month. Besides, recently the partnership between Twitch and Adobe has been announced, and from then on the website features the section which will for sure be interesting for creative personalities — designers, artists and musicians, who received a chance to broadcast themselves working on different projects under the watchful eye of viewers.