YouTube’s acquisition of Twitch has a lot of feathers ruffled over how Google’s influence will affect the social broadcasting gaming site. Will users be forced to login with Google+? Will they have to contend with Google’s voracious content ID system? But the really exciting part of this acquisition is what Twitch’s influence will be on YouTube.
Twitch is valuable because they’ve created a truly interactive broadcast environment for gamers. Viewers can voice or text chat live with each other and broadcasters. They regularly host live streaming competitions like Evo fighting tournament. Events like the Twitch Pokemon phenomenon, where over 11 million people played Pokemon simultaneously, blur the line between watching and playing. Live streaming services like Stageit, Livestream, or Ustream have tried to make interactive concert streaming but their services have only been utilized by niche markets or in the case of Ustream they’ve switched entirely to enterprise markets.
YouTube has tried to create a live streaming service but as Gigaom pointed out in their short history of YouTube Live, Google all but killed the service early this year. Unlike, Twitch where you can broadcast using downloadable software from your desktop or from your Playstation or Xbox One, YouTube Live wasn’t plug and play. There are some original live programs being produced using Google +, like Country Music Chat Live which bring sfans and country artists together in a Q&A session. The problem is that Google+ doesn’t have the flexibility to allow viewers to participate outside the hangout.
As artists rely more and more on performance revenues, the demand for viable live streaming will only increase. Viacom’s cross-platform coverage of Hangout Fest, this past weekend, is a great example of next generation concert footage. They had a live stream of the festival online, compete with live Instagram and Twitter feeds in addition to exclusive coverage on Palladia and VH1. Live Nation and Yahoo! are also throwing their hat in the ring with daily a daily live streaming concert series starting later this summer. When you consider that the Kinect can now count the number of people in a room your living room could be the next Fillmore.