Why Twitch Is The Future Of Television [OPINION]

By Mike Andronico , Updated May 18, 2013 04:47 PM EDT
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I have a confession to make: I'm hopelessly addicted to Twitch. As an avid fighting game player and fan, I am always itching to catch whatever tournament action is playing on the streaming service. I also use the site to preview new or upcoming games, as I can get a much better idea of how a title works when watching an actual human play it.

Needless to say, I was beyond excited when the Twitch app launched for Xbox 360 earlier this week. While the new app doesn't have all of the benefits of Twitch.tv itself (logging in, broadcasting), it still puts some of the very best gaming broadcasters on your television, where you can enjoy everything from Halo 4 competitions to casual Dota 2 sessions.

As I scrolled through the top channels on the new Twitch app, something hit me: I am experiencing the future of games on television.

Let's face it: Video games and television haven't had the best relationship. While Tech TV's X-Play enjoyed solid viewership, games took a backseat when G4 acquired the network and the new G4 completely dissolved last year. Aside from a few small segments and commercials on cable shows and Spike's annual Video Game Awards (which can be streamed on Xbox), there simply aren't many games on television these days.

Twitch on Xbox resolves this issue, providing free streams of popular games and gamers with the same on-demand convenience that comes with Hulu and Netflix.

Why else is Twitch on TV a game-changer? We are spectators by nature. Not everyone plays football, but that doesn't stop millions from tuning into the Super Bowl every year. Games are no different, as major events for the likes of Starcraft 2 and League of Legends draw huge numbers on Twitch. Just like the MLB and NBA, video games are long-existing forms of competition made special by the people who play them. Don't be surprised to see pro gamers become household names in the next few years.

Aside from being a means to showcase high-level gameplay, Twitch is an excellent platform to ramp up excitement for future titles. Instead of spending a fortune on marketing campaigns, developers can simply host a live stream of their game and get instant fan feedback from the in-stream chat room. This is especially useful for indie developers, who can now show off their software to viewers across computers, smartphones, and finally, Xbox 360s. Various Twitch broadcasters have been stepping up their game beyond just raw gameplay, as exhibited by the comedic "Man vs Game" channel and the various Sportscenter-style Starcraft wrap-ups.

Twitch has grown exponentially in its short few years of existence, and it only seems to be getting bigger than ever. Not only are the folks at Twitch providing a dream streaming service for gamers, they are rewriting the general format for what makes a general "television" show work. How do you see live streaming networks such as Twitch affecting the world of TV?

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