The world’s next great sports network has arrived, and it’s nowhere near your cable box.
Twitch.tv, the popular video streaming website built specifically around gaming, just acquired $20 million in third round investment. Combined with two previous investment rounds, Twitch has totaled $42 million to support 90 employees and an audience that has just reached over 45 million per month—double the number that the website saw late last year.
Many in the giant global audience that Twitch serves will be pleased to hear that the new money will be used to build out Twitch’s infrastructure so that it can serve video better around the world. As popular as Twitch as become, it’s frequently subject to complaints from customers in Europe and Asia about laggy videos and other significant performance issues.
In the past, these issues have driven some viewers to competitors such as Own3d.tv. However, Own3d went out of business early this year and true competitors are few and far between for Twitch right now.
The market won’t stay this sparsely populated forever. In order to retain the huge lead they’ve built in the growing market, Twitch has to continue to satisfy their customers and match the capabilities of potential future competitors like Google.
When the press covers Twitch, an old cliché almost always shows up as they try to explain the business to a non-gaming audience: Twitch is the ESPN of video games.
Nowadays, that comparison is making more and more sense, as Justin Wong, Twitch’s director of partnerships, pointed out:
ESPN averages 750k concurrent viewers. A year ago, I would have said that’d be almost impossible for Twitch. Now… not so much.
— Justin Wong (@FuzzyOtterBalls) September 30, 2013
As of Monday afternoon—a time with no major events broadcasting—about 265,000 viewers were watching Twitch.tv streams. On big days, that number shoots into the millions. On August 11, 4.5 million viewers watched Dota 2’s The International.
Twitch can’t keep growing at this rate forever. There has to be a ceiling somewhere, of course. But with eSport’s biggest event, the League Championship Series, taking place this month and with numerous major events on the horizon, the ceiling still isn’t even within sight.
Photo via Twitch.tv/Facebook