Twitch API Lets Gamers Integrate Live Broadcasts

May. 19 2014, 06:55PM EDT

Video gamers love to watch other people play video games. The phenomenon has made Twitch.tv hugely popular. One million gamers use the platform to broadcast themselves playing video games. And 45 million people visit the Twitch site monthly to watch those games and comment on them. Both PlayStation and Xbox One let gamers live stream their sessions to Twitch.

Developers who want to integrate Twitch features, such as live broadcasting, chat, video analytics and more, into their own platform or Web service, can easily do so using the Twitch API.

With more than 1 billion visitors per month, YouTube still holds the #1 spot in Internet video streaming. Gameplay videos are also popular on YouTube. The Swedish gamer PieDiePew, for example, has 27 million subscribers on his YouTube channel.

But while YouTube’s focus is archived videos, gamers who want to broadcast live mainly turn to Twitch. Last year, YouTube tried to change that by announcing its own live streaming API for game developers at the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco.  

The YouTube API lets developers send YouTube a live stream of video coming from a game and have the website then transcode the video in real-time for users. YouTube was hoping the API would draw more game streamers, but so far, it hasn’t captured the market share already held by Twitch.

So, as the old adage goes, if you can’t beat them, buy them. Word on the street is that Google (specifically its YouTube division) is in talks right now to purchase Twitch, the live games streaming service provider, for a jaw-dropping $1 billion. The deal was originally reported by Variety.

For YouTube, the acquisition of Twitch will mean a hefty boost in subscribers. And for Twitch, the acquisition will mean a bigger financial and technical investment into its rapidly growing platform. Developers, however, may find the merger disconcerting as it signals less competition in the Internet video streaming industry.

Twitch was launched three years ago, originally as a spin-off of Justin.tv, by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear. The name is inspired by the term “twitch gameplay,” which tests a player’s reaction time.  The company is based in San Francisco.

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