| SAN FRANCISCO, July 2
SAN FRANCISCO, July 2 Live streaming startup
Twitch, which grew its users over 40 percent in the past year,
said it is building a studio in San Francisco to host videogame
broadcasts and attract more advertisers and viewers to its novel
live chat format.
The venture-backed startup, revealing its latest numbers,
averaged 50 million monthly active users in June versus 35
million a year ago. That growth rate is down from when they
doubled users in all of 2013, but user numbers typically pick up
in the second half, a Twitch spokesman said.
"We want to test ways to help our everyday streamer produce
more and more premium content," chief operating officer Kevin
Lin said in a recent interview. "We don't want to move in to
(making) our owned-and-operated content."
Twitch raised $20 million in funding in September from game
publisher Take-Two Interactive Software and firms such
as Bessemer Venture Partners and Thrive Capital. It is trying to
ramp up overall quality and capitalize on a surge of interest in
its live interactive webcasts of professional gaming
competitions and even individual videogamers at play.
Its format, which lets viewers message players and each
other as live gaming ensues, is garnering interest as one of the
fastest-growing segments of digital video streaming, which in
turn is attracting more and more ad dollars. Google was in
early-stage talks in recent months to acquire the startup,
according to the Wall Street Journal, spurring speculation that
the Internet giant was keen on stepping up its own live
game-streaming efforts on YouTube.
Investors have noticed Twitch's rapid growth, from some 3.2
million players when it initially launched in 2011. Some of its
most-followed players rake in six-figure salaries through a
50-50 split in advertising revenue, $5 monthly subscriptions to
livestream channels, and even spontaneous donations from fans.
Viewer engagement remains steady at over 100 minutes per day
per user, Twitch executives said.
Its new studio, which will be opened up to select
livecasters later this year and be fully operational next year,
will sport the usual professional paraphernalia of TV studios
from cameras and audio gear to green screen technology.
"The idea came about because securing studio space can be
costly and inflexible, so we wanted a place where partners can
create studio grade content," said Marcus "djWHEAT" Graham,
director of community and education at Twitch. "The studio also
enables Twitch to offer broadcaster and production training to
the partners who wish to take their own production to the next
Twenty four year-old Molly Fender, known as "MissMollyLolly"
on her ten-month old Twitch channel, could be among the studio's
early beneficiaries. Fender who plays video games from horror
titles to "Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft" said she is working
towards making a living on Twitch.
"When you first start it is kind of hard to get over the
initial hump," Fender said. "It's tough but totally doable."
(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; editing by Andrew Hay)