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Twitch is a live streaming video platform owned by Twitch Interactive, a subsidiary of Amazon. Introduced in June 2011 as a spin-off of the general-interest streaming platform, Justin.tv, the site primarily focuses on video game live streaming, including broadcasts of eSports competitions, in addition to creative content, "in real life" streams, and more recently, music broadcasts. Content on the site can be viewed either live or via video on demand.
The popularity of Twitch eclipsed that of its general-interest counterpart. In October 2013, the website had 45 million unique viewers,:38 and by February 2014, it was considered the fourth largest source of peak Internet traffic in the United States. At the same time, Justin.tv's parent company was re-branded as Twitch Interactive to represent the shift in focus – Justin.tv was shut down in August 2014. That month, the service was acquired by Amazon for US$970 million, which later led to the introduction of synergies with the company's subscription service Amazon Prime. Twitch later acquired Curse, an operator of online video gaming communities and introduced means to purchase games through links on streams along with a program allowing streamers to receive commissions on the sales of games that they play.
By 2015, Twitch had more than 1.5 million broadcasters and 100 million viewers per month. As of Q3 2017, Twitch remained the leading live streaming video service for video games in the US, and had an advantage over YouTube Gaming. As of May 2018, it had 2.2 million broadcasters monthly and 15 million daily active users, with around a million average concurrent users.
When Justin.tv was launched in 2007 by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear, the site was divided into several content categories. The gaming category grew especially fast, and became the most popular content on the site. In June 2011,:40 the company decided to spin off the gaming content as Twitch.tv, inspired by the term twitch gameplay. It launched officially in public beta on June 6, 2011. Since then, Twitch has attracted more than 35 million unique visitors a month. Twitch had about 80 employees in June 2013, which increased to 100 by December 2013. The company was headquartered in San Francisco's Financial District.
Twitch has been supported by significant investments of venture capital, with US$15 million in 2012 (on top of US$7 million originally raised for Justin.tv), and US$20 million in 2013. Investors during three rounds of fund raising leading up to the end of 2013 included Draper Associates, Bessemer Venture Partners and Thrive Capital.:40 In addition to the influx of venture funding, it was believed in 2013 that the company had become profitable.
Especially since the shutdown of its direct competitor Own3d.tv in early 2013, Twitch has become the most popular e-sports streaming service by a large margin, leading some to conclude that the website has a "near monopoly on the market". Competing video services, such as YouTube and Dailymotion, began to increase the prominence of their gaming content to compete, but have had a much smaller impact so far. As of mid-2013, there were over 43 million viewers on Twitch monthly, with the average viewer watching an hour and a half a day. As of February 2014, Twitch is the fourth largest source of Internet traffic during peak times in the United States, behind Netflix, Google, and Apple. Twitch makes up 1.8% of total US Internet traffic during peak periods.
In late-2013, particularly due to increasing viewership and using a legacy Adobe Flash plugin to present video to desktop users, Twitch had issues with lag, predominantly in Europe. Twitch has subsequently added new servers in the region. Also in order to address these problems, Twitch implemented a new video system shown to be more efficient than the previous system. Initially, the new video system was criticized by users because it caused a significant stream delay, interfering with broadcaster-viewer interaction. Twitch staff said that the increased delay was likely temporary and at the time, was an acceptable tradeoff for the decrease in buffering
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