Twitch Is a Better Fit for Amazon Than People Might Think

In a very interesting turn of events last week, Amazon bought video streaming service Twitch for just under a billion dollars. This came as quite a surprise, because for the past several weeks, the prevailing rumor was that Google was buying Twitch for about the same price.

Google buying Twitch made a lot of sense, both from a technology standpoint and a business standpoint. By owning Twitch, they no longer would have to compete with Twitch, and they would have a livestreaming platform to compliment their recorded video platform. Because despite the improvements in Google Hangouts and YouTube livestreaming, Twitch was still way ahead of Google in the livestreaming space.

But with Amazon swooping in and getting Twitch in the eleventh hour, Google went from potentially owning the online video space to facing even stronger competition from one of its biggest rivals, in an area they previously didn’t have to worry about.

That’s a whole other subject, however. Let’s just focus for a moment on what the addition of Twitch could mean for Amazon, and for gamers.

Amazon already has a video on demand service with Amazon Instant Video. Now they have a livestreaming service with over 50 million users, who spend up to two hours a day consuming content. That’s a lot of eyes for Amazon to show ads to, and an added value for their Prime subscription service if they want to offer an an ad-free option.

On the gaming front, anyone who was skeptical when Amazon talked about getting into the gaming space should be a believer by now. They launched a games studio in 2012, created a game controller for their their Kindle Fire TV, and have added asymmetrical co-op features to some of their games, allowing someone with a Kindle Fire HDX tablet to play along with someone using a game controller on the Fire TV. Now they have added the biggest gameplay streaming platform in the world to their ecosystem. And while none of these pieces may fit together perfectly yet, the point is that Amazon now has all of these pieces. They can build games and services moving forward that leverage their devices and their video platforms.

Not to mention, now Twitch has additional resources to continue improving and expanding its core services, and I wouldn’t expect Amazon to screw with what’s working already. They may offer enhanced services to those already participating in the Amazon ecosystem (Prime subscribers and Kindle device owners), but I think those that just want to stream content from their consoles or PCS, or watch streamed content will be able to do so whether they are using Amazon services or not.

Of course, Twitch can stream more than just gameplay, so Amazon now also has another platform to create and distribute original programming to an audience of millions. I could easily imagine the Amazon Weekly Book Club video podcast, or the Amazon Instant Video Picks of the Week show. They could even create programs similar to X-Play and Electric Playground, which would be a perfect fit for the Twitch audience.

So, I’m pretty excited to see what Amazon does moving forward. They said they were jumping into the video game space, and they’ve done just that, in more ways than one.