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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Twitch is Dead. Long Live Twitch!

The rumors of a Twitch.tv buyout have been ongoing for months. Google was going to buy Twitch out, and that made people both apprehensive and hopeful - in that order. Hardly a month ago VentureBeat loudly proclaimed, "Google’s $1B purchase of Twitch confirmed," a story they have since had to modify. You know, the more you commit the harder you fall. That one really had to hurt!

When the announcement came out, it was Amazon, not Google, that got the prize. And there are some really good reasons for this. I have no doubt Google would have had to fight an uphill antitrust battle if they'd acquired Twitch. It would have been long, expensive, and in the end I feel they would have lost. YouTube really is all that and a hill of beans. Having the amazingly popular YouTube franchise AND the premier streaming franchise (though I actually think Google has the better technical streaming platform) would have been too much for the world to stomach. The U.S, might have let that slide, but the E.U. would have raised holy hell about it. I think you could take that to the bank.

So faced with a one billion dollar price tag, and an unknown dollar figure for litigation, Google just couldn't do it. Frankly, it was the right move on Google's part. They can still get a chunk of the advertisement revenue if they play their cards right, and they don't have to spend much money to do it. And they still have YouTube. So long as they maintain the upload link between Twitch and YouTube they should be fine.

And that's probably where the trouble will start. I think Twitch's move to restrict the length of time videos were retained was a technology issue. They just didn't have the capital necessary to purchase that sort of cloud infrastructure. Google makes their own. Their cost of ownership is really low compared to what Twitch would have had to pay. In the end, Twitch needed YouTube to shore up that weakness. By allowing Twitch users unfettered access to YouTube uploads, they kept the unhappiness generated by their no archives announcement from becoming a riot. And believe me, it would have been a riot if all those streams had just disappeared.

But do you know who probably has more cloud chutzpah than Google? Yeah, that's right: Amazon. I read this week an article about Microsoft moving their business flow to Azure by 2018. In that article it was stated Amazon moved its business flow to EC2 and Amazon Web Services since November 2011. That's a lot of confidence in one's product. And I don't think I'll get any argument when I say Amazon gets the cloud better than Google or Microsoft. I might get some argument if I said they understand it better than anyone, but it'd be a hell of an argument.

So what's to keep Twitch tied to YouTube now? Absolutely nothing. Amazon can supply Twitch all the storage they need.

And you know what else Amazon can provide? Connection points. Twitch has two West Coast U.S. portals. You can find a complete list of ingest servers here. One is in Los Angeles and the other in San Francisco. When the earthquake hit Napa this last week, getting to either of those two servers from the Pacific Northwest wasn't happening. The nearest server after those two is Dallas, Texas and the lag makes it simply unusable. I had this straight from the mouth of my favorite bar keep and Twitch streamer Shatteredhip. Check out his stream!

If Twitch is to grow, they MUST address this lack of ingest servers. Amazon is their key to that road block. They need at least one ingest server in the largest city of every state in the U.S. and country in the E.U. That's a minimum in my opinion. They should at least have an ingest server in Seattle, Washington for gods sake. That they don't have one speaks to how tough it was for Twitch to expand without this buyout. Now I predict with much confidence that things will get better.

Now, it Twitch could just get Amazon to help them figure out the freezing issue with Flash, I would be a much happier Twitch viewer. Oh, and get rid of that ridiculous top 300 site limit on your apps (Xbox and otherwise.) If you really are all about all the streamers, why to you only download the top 300 to your apps? We deserve better than that.

But you know, I still watch Twitch on my laptop (the desktop has the freezing issue,) and on my Xbox and on my smart phone (Wifi only ;-) .) I watch it all the time. It's better than reality T.V. or ESPN. And now it will be around for a very, very long time. Hooray!

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