Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Why Amazon Is Paying $970 Million for Twitch, in One Chart

Customers raise their hands during a countdown at the launch of the Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. PlayStation 4 (PS4) video game console at the Sony showroom in Tokyo. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
Customers raise their hands during a countdown at the launch of the Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. PlayStation 4 (PS4) video game console at the Sony showroom in Tokyo. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

You may be surprised to learn that people post videos online of themselves playing video games. You may be even more surprised to learn people actually watch these videos, and Amazon.com is paying $970 million for Twitch, the website that hosts them.

While video-games-as-spectator-sport is a somewhat alien concept in many parts of the world, it went mainstream years ago in Korea. The top players are local celebrities, and thousands of people pile into arenas to watch these thumb athletes compete on the Jumbotron. There are channels on Korean television devoted to broadcasting StarCraft and other live game battles. Thirty percent of total time spent watching these kinds of videos globally is on TV, according to research firm IHS. The rest is online.