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Google's YouTube gets an itch to buy Twitch

Google-owned YouTube has reportedly purchased video game streaming site and service Twitch.tv for approximately $1 billion. The acquisition—which would be the largest for the company to date—has not yet been publicly acknowledged by either party, however, Variety magazine cites anonymous sources today who claim the deal would be “announced imminently.”

Twitch is growing in popularity as whole communities form to play games together, such as "Pokémon."
Twitch Interactive, Inc.

Twitch allows gamers to watch, upload, and live-stream gameplay online or through the dedicated Twitch app. The service has been around since 2011, however, has become increasingly popular with the release of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 which both allow users to stream directly from their console. According to Variety, Twitch is responsible for 1.35% of North America’s total downstream bandwidth, trailing TV on-demand service Hulu at 1.7%.

YouTube itself was bought by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion and the site has proved essential to Google and to the Internet as a whole, becoming the undisputed top video sharing site. More than 1 billion active users watch over 6 billion hours of video content each month, using 13.2% of all downstream bandwidth in North America. (Netflix holds the top spot at 34.2%).

The deal is expected to undergo scrutiny from the Justice Department, who is likely to question whether or not the acquisition restricts the online video market. YouTube already hosts a large number of gameplay videos, a category which serves upwards of 79 million subscribers. A move towards streaming game content would be the next logical step for YouTube, which has streamed live events in the past already, including presidential addresses and sporting events.

More information will likely be made available following a public statement by either Twitch or YouTube. Until then, all details must be taken with a grain of salt as they cannot be confirmed regardless of how reliable unnamed sources may be. If true, however, it is possible a statement would be issued in the next few days following the premature acknowledgement of the deal's existence.