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Google-YouTube Is Totally Buying Twitch For $1B. Here’s Why

Get ready to have Google Now suggest ways for you to not suck so bad at Spelunky. According to new reports, Google’s YouTube is in talks to buy the Twitch video game-streaming service for a cool billion.

This is the sort of thing where neither company will say anything until the ink is well dried on the deal and the founders of the acquired company have bought their new yachts, but the YouTube-Twitch deal really looks to be in the works. All that’s in question is how close Twitch is to closing the matter.

Variety says the deal is just about done, with the announcement of the $1 billion Twitch buy likely to come in the next few days.

The Wall Street Journal, though, says YouTube and Twitch are just talking for right now, with a potential purchase price still up in the air.

It’s a tough call. Variety is well-sourced with regard to the online video industry Twitch plays in, but The Wall Street Journal is well known for its ability to break big tech news. In this case, we’re going to go with the report that’s more fun: Google is totally about to buy Twitch for $1 billion.

Twitch is kind of kicking YouTube’s butt in game streaming.

Twitch is just under three years old, but it already accounts for about 44 percent of live-streaming traffic in the United States, according to online video and networking firm Qwilt. Twitch’s live-streaming bandwidth is nothing compared to YouTube’s total on-demand numbers, but the fact that the startup has been able to carve out such a niche in just three years is attractive to YouTube. YouTube’s own YouTube Live feature, despite having the marketing clout of the world’s biggest streaming site behind it, still lags behind Twitch. So, in a way, Google is the underdog here, see?

Buying Twitch will let YouTube kick back and be a bit lazy.

Twitch’s 45 million-strong user community, the Journal notes, is already really engaged. Remember Twitch Plays Pokemon? That was more than 100,000 Twitch devotees. Living, autonomous human beings. Playing Pokemon via chat and Google Doc. Pokemon!

And, when they’re not playing Pokemon – or Tetris, or Earthbound, or Final Fantasy VII… – Twitch users are sometimes stripping for each other… until the Games Police put a stop to that, that is.

In any case, Twitch’s level of user engagement is the sort of thing you can’t just buy, and Google has learned that the hard way. (Cough, cough, googleplus, cough. Ahem.) Snatching up Twitch for $1 billion – which, by the way, now just seems like the lazy rich man’s acquisition figure. “How much? Nevermind. Here’s a billion. We done here?” – will allow YouTube to bring in a dedicated user base numbering in the tens of millions. Twitch user dedication means a reliable eyeballs-on-screen ratio. Reliable eyeballs-on-screen means better advertising dollars. Equals Twitch making more of the money.

It gets more Google in your gaming.

Even without Twitch, Google’s already got a good foothold in the gaming world with its massively successful Android platform. Android and iOS gaming together already pull in four times more revenue than Sony and Nintendo’s portable consoles, according to App Annie and bringing in Twitch will allow Google to make even more money off gaming. It also gets Google a sizable foothold in the console gaming market, and the Mountain View crew would just love to pull in more cash off of your best PS4 and Xbox One Twitch moments.

Of course, many Twitch faithful and tech conglomerate haters will just be sour over the deal, anyway. But, if it’s any consolation to the inevitable hate-Twitch-now-since-Google-bought-it whiners, the Twitch-YouTube deal isn’t yet confirmed. Also, Google Now will eventually be able to remind you of when your favorite gaming events are streaming. Plus, Twitch will probably be able to continue operating as a largely standalone unit, as Google doesn’t really like to muck up a good thing when it drops a cool billion on an upstart.

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