Twitch is often met by the mainstream with puzzlement. Wait, people like to watch other people play video games? Yes, it turns out they do, to the tune of 50 million monthly active users, up 40 percent from last year. Now, the video streaming site is toying with the idea of moving beyond games and into live music.
On Wednesday night, Twitch users will be able to tune into the site's first-ever live concert stream featuring electronic musician Steve Aoki, who's playing a show at the music venue Pacha in Ibiza, Spain. The show kicks off at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET) and will last for two hours on Aoki's Twitch channel, twitch.tv/steveaoki.
"A couple of weeks ago we surveyed the Twitch community and asked: "Would you be interested in watching your favorite artists perform live on Twitch?" A full 80 percent of you said, 'Yes!,'" the company noted in a statement. "Some friends in the music industry have been interested in sharing free live concerts on Twitch for some time. Given the community's feedback in our survey, we said 'Yes!'"
Twitch has undergone significant growth over the last couple of years, ballooning in both users and usage as well as popularity within the greater cultural conscious. In the process, it's quickly become a revenue stream, much like YouTube has, for channel owners that can charge for subscriptions, work with advertisers, and take in donations. Twitch nabbed $20 million in funding last September to further its growth and to help build out a studio in its San Francisco headquarters.
The company has also been home to wacky experiments, like the Internet phenomenon Twitch Plays Pokemon, and has emerged as the leader in e-sports broadcasting, an explosively popular market for competitive video game playing that has superseded traditional television in favor of a more direct and online-only distribution model.
With live concerts, Twitch is experimenting with a format that -- while not entirely novel -- could unlock an entirely untapped audience that has largely used YouTube as a catch-all service for more traditional online video.
"If this kind of thing turns out to be a good fit, we'll certainly think about the best way to integrate music more fully into the platform," Matt DiPietro, Twitch's VP of marketing, said in an interview with Mashable.
This expansion is not surprising either, given rumors continue to swirl around a Google acquisition for as much as $1 billion, a deal that has reportedly been cooking for months now and is on the precipice of closing, according to Variety, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other sources. Neither Twitch nor the search giant has publicly commented on the acquisition talks, so the game streaming site -- which happens to be less and less a game-oriented service by the day -- remains independent for now.