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Bigger than Hulu? Game video streaming service Twitch reveals massive audience

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The only thing gamers like to do more than play games is watch other people play them.

That’s the takeaway from data just released by Twitch, the popular streaming service embedded in the PlayStation 4. It’s been around much longer than Sony’s console, initially launched as a spin-off to streaming site Justin.tv in 2011. Since then, the privately-held company has raised over $40 million, and for good reason: people are into it, big time.

On Thursday Twitch announced that by the end of 2013, over 45 million monthly unique viewers were watching an average of 106 minutes per day -- or 12 billion minutes per month -- of Twitch content. That’s an increase of 25 million monthly viewers since 2012, but more impressively, it makes Twitch even bigger than the likes of Hulu, which as of July 2013 was reaching about 30 million unique viewers per month.

“When video game historians look back on gaming a decade from now, 2013 will be the year they cite as the tipping point of streaming,” said Matthew DiPietro, VP of Marketing, Twitch. “Every major event, publisher, developer, and media outlet in the gaming industry had a presence on Twitch, and streaming became an ever-present piece of the gaming experience. And it’s only going to get bigger.”

So what is it, exactly? Essentially, Twitch is a video game broadcast service that streams live and recorded content. It’s largely focused on eSports coverage -- if you want to watch a League of Legends tournament, you’ll probably do it via Twitch -- but Twitch is also a hugely popular way for everyday gamers to stream videos of themselves playing games. Its integration into the PS4 has brought in hordes of new users; over 20% of Twitch’s 900,000 broadcasters were streaming from Sony’s console. Microsoft’s Xbox One will be adding the service in a future update.

To put the company’s success in perspective, Twitch is enjoying more prime time eyeballs than MTV, SyFy, AMC and TNT. Crucially, over 75% of its audience is between 18-49.

Twitch isn’t the only company finding success streaming game content, as both eSports giant Major League Gaming and Youtube (who recently opened up its live streaming service) have seen significant growth in the game sector. And with a new console generation just getting started, it's only going to get bigger.

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