Twitch TV is an independent platform owned and operated by Amazon.com and is the latest in online video and media streaming. First introduced back in 2011, it has since emerged as a seminal platform that is used primarily by video gamers, and it is part of a wider trend for cross-platform gaming that integrates desktops, laptops and mobile devices within a single network.
While Twitch TV is not alone in this marketplace, its popularity is likely to eclipse many alternatives. By the middle of 2013, the website had amassed an average of 43 million viewers each month, and by February the following year it was rated as the fourth largest source of Internet traffic in the U.S. Its growth has highlighted the rise of media streaming, and also offers a fascinating insight into the future of the market.
In general terms, video streaming has enjoyed huge growth during the last few years. Thanks primarily to the success of VOD (video on demand) resources such as Netflix and Amazon Prime; the growth of online streaming has begun to eclipse television viewing statistics. More specifically, the number of online video streaming viewers grew at a rate of 60% at the end of 2014, while television figures fell by 4%. Even though television remains the dominant medium in terms of hours watched per month, the gap is narrowing and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
It is in the gaming world where the trend for on-demand media is having the greatest impact, however, especially with hardware such as Chromecast and the Nvidia Shield tablet allowing players to stream their favourite titles between desktops, mobiles and laptops. This is being driven strongly by the rise of live casinos online, that rely on authentic interaction and pacing to replicate a corporeal gambling experience. Mediums such as Twitch TV are central to this, as they translate mobile experiences onto the big screen and create a far more immersive gaming environment.
Video streaming and VOD will continue to grow over the course of the next five years, both in terms of popularity and innovation. In time, there is a strong likelihood that platforms such as Netflix will ultimately render traditional television redundant, as a growing number of platforms emerge to meet the typical consumers’ demand for flexibility. This is still some time away, however, even allowing for the rapid pace of technological advancement and its impact in this market.
From the perspective of gamers, the development of cross-platform experiences and live gameplay underlines the exciting nature of the times. Platforms such as Twitch TV have been central to this, as they enable games to stream their favourite titles and experience across multiple devices. With virtual reality technology and hardware also beginning to take hold in the consumer market, gaming will be elevated to new heights during the next decade.