File this one under rumor wrapped in a big fat grain of salt. According to unconfirmed sources, Variety reported this weekend that YouTube (let's call it what it is, Google) is looking to acquire Twitch.tv. While such an acquisition seems totally feasable based on Google's quest for world domination, the lack of a verifiable source in the original article on Variety means this may just be a total load of crap, albeit one that is within the realm of possibility.
According to Variety:
"Google’s YouTube has reached a deal to buy Twitch, a popular videogame-streaming company, for more than $1 billion, according to sources familiar with the pact.
The deal, in an all-cash offer, is expected to be announced imminently, sources said. If completed the acquisition would be the most significant in the history of YouTube, which Google acquired in 2006 for $1.65 billion. The impending acquisition comes after longtime Google ad exec Susan Wojcicki was named CEO of YouTube earlier this year."
Assuming this is a real thing, it remains to be seen what kind of impact it will have on live streaming. The news has sparked a lenghty internal discussion between our writers, including our eSports teams on eSportsMax.com and the recently launched GGMaster.com.
One contributor noted:
My big concern is that YouTube's ridiculous copyright takedown requests will become an issue on Twitch, as well. "This stream cannot play because the livestreamer is playing music copyrighted by the RIAA."
To take that one step further, we've already begun to see agressive takedowns of videos when a developer or publisher has not agreed to allow third parties to make revenue from their gameplay footage. This could ultimately lead to a situation where you are only able to monetize a Twitch channel if a direct cut of any revenue is given to the owner of the intellectual property being streamed.
In other words, Twitch could stand to become little more than an extension of official marketing campaigns, and the streamers muzzled unless they're spreading the approved message.
The other concern is based on the potential monopoly this would create:
This isn't good in the slightest. Google looks at twitch as numbers to make their numbers bigger. There will be big changes, and it's likely to be those that favor Google more than the gaming community. There is already next-to-no competition for twitch. Now they're owned by the one company that can guarantee twitch to outmatch any other competition, leaving Google to run the community as they see fit, with little regard to what the community cares about since twitch has the monopoly.
One of our active eSports streamers went on to correctly point out:
The thing is, these talks are very early on and may not even happen at all at this point, due to the justice dept having issue with a monopoly. I also think Variety is jumping the gun on running any kind of number as to what it's selling for.
He went on to note...
That being said, Azubu looks to be offering a very attractive service for eSports personalities to head to, and the LCS already uses YouTube, among other services to broadcast with no downsides (in fact, I prefer it, as I can pause live video and immediately pick up where I left off, invaluable for taking screencaps).
So - assuming the aquisition even goes through - the jury is still out on whether gamers will file this one under Good, Bad, or Ugly. We'll continue following the story and will no doubt have plenty more to say on the subject as things progress. In the meantime, be sure to dive into the discussion in the comments.