It's been nearly two months since Variety and The Wall Street Journal reported Google was "in talks" to purchase popular games streaming site Twitch.tv for a billion dollars. According to VentureBeat, we can now upgrade the status from "in talks" to "sealed deal."
The report is unconfirmed currently, with VentureBeat only citing "sources familiar with the matter," but it'd hardly be a surprise if true. Details are scarce though--neither company has spoken on the matter, and there's no news of whether just Twitch or all of the empire formerly know as Justin.tv is also part of the deal. We also don't know whether YouTube's own streaming service would continue to function separately from Google. Here's hoping that if the acquisition rumors are true, Google+ won't become mandatory for Twitch accounts.
I stand by what I said back in May: Google's acquisition of Twitch is not necessarily bad for streamers. Despite Google's somewhat overbearing attitude towards copyright enforcement and Google+, there's no denying that Google has both the cash and knowledge to upgrade Twitch's infrastructure, turn it into a more robust service, and pay more streamers for their work. As long as Twitch is given space to function and the money to expand, the Google acquisition could be a great opportunity.
Or Google could wreck it all.
Regardless, it's an enormous opportunity for Google. While YouTube already owns the uploaded video landscape, streaming is increasingly popular for both entertainment and e-sports. For instance, Valve's Dota 2 tournament The International was streamed on Twitch (and elsewhere) this past weekend, with a prize pool of ten million dollars on the line--up from a three million the year before. This is a rapidly-expanding industry, and Google's smart to try and take hold.
Let's just hope it doesn't all go to hell in the meantime. We'll let you know if we hear confirmation of the purchase from either Twitch or Google.