The news that Amazon purchased Twitch.tv for nearly a billion dollars last week is now in the category of old news. It was Amazon’s second largest purchase ever (bonus points if you can recall the largest which was only for a couple of hundred million dollars more).
David Carr of the New York Times wrote his usual good piece about it earlier this week. I’ve been familiar with Twitch for some time now as my son is an inveterate gamer and has been talking about the incredible popularity of the platform. What remains to be seen is how Amazon will leverage the platform into something profitable. Gamers, you’ll note, are notoriously resistant to efforts of commercialization on their platforms.
That thousands of fans attend live events to watch others play video games is a hard concept for most of those over 40 years of age. I’ve not attended one of these events but I am interested enough to want to have the experience even though I am not gamer. The marketer has much over which to salivate when it comes to the opportunities to monetize the incredible passion of the ever-growing gaming audience. And the numbers are mind-blowing as Mr. Carr notes – citing (ironically) the Wall Street Journal –
…’last October, more people – 32 million — watched a championship for League of Legends, on various streaming services including Twitch, than saw the finales of “The Sopranos,” “24” and “Breaking Bad,” combined.’ This was all without commercial interruption. Apparently gamers were pleased that it was Amazon, and not Google or Yahoo that won the bidding for Twitch although I am not sure exactly why they feel that way.
Gaming has more than come of age and my son and I have talked about an ESPN-style Sportscenter show that would be an obvious outgrowth. There are many athletes both amateur and professional that love to play games in real time with other people like League of Legends (LOL – really), StarCraft II and Counterstrike (not to mention Dota 2). The gaming world is more than ready during tournaments for a wrap-up show of the prior match and preview show of an upcoming match to fill what is now dead air. That’s one of the first places I’d expect to see monetization take hold (i.e. sponsored by…).
You already know that gaming has come of age when Amazon pays nearly a billion dollars for it. How marketers will rise to the challenge of reaching an audience that rejects commercialization will be interesting to watch. I have a few ideas. How about you?
The answer to the question is Zappos.com.