Multiple reports around the web claim that Google may be about to purchase game streaming giant Twitch.tv. News of the potential acquisition originated in this Variety story, which says a deal has been reached—and that it's worth a cool $1 billion in cash. The acquisition is "expected to be announced imminently," according to Variety's sources.
The Wall Street Journal's moles have confirmed that a deal is being discussed. However, the WSJ indicates that "talks are at an early state, and a deal isn't imminent." Meanwhile, the anonymous source cited by The Verge claims Google and Twitch have settled on the $1 billion price tag but "are working out details such as how independent the Twitch company and brand will remain."
The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Twitch has become a pretty big deal. Twitch started as the gaming-focused section of streaming site Justin.tv. It spun off into its own entity in 2011, and its audience has grown to 45 million unique viewers per month. Over one million users stream live content to the site.
According to the WSJ, Twitch's audience is particularly appealing to advertisers because it spends so much time watching and sharing videos. Indeed, Twitch claims its users "watch live video on Twitch for 95 minutes everyday." The more engaged the audience, the higher the price that can be charged for advertising.
I have to admit that I've never really understood the appeal of watching other people play video games. But there's clearly a huge market for that kind of thing, and Twitch is clearly the leader in that space. Google already owns online video giant YouTube, so adding Twitch to its stable makes sense. I suspect we'll hear an official confirmation of the deal before long.