Twitch Raises $15 Million to Be the YouTube of the Videogame World

Twitch, which was started by the people at Justin.TV, has raised more money to continue building an online video platform where viewers can watch live footage of videogames being played.

The experience can be analogous to watching a professional basketball or football game on TV, especially as videogames increasingly become a rival to other major forms of entertainment.

The $15 million round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners; Alsop Louie Partners and Draper Associates also participated. The capital will go toward hiring more engineers to continue building out its platform and improving quality.

The videos run on Twitch’s own platform, rather than on a third-party site like YouTube, allowing it to exclusively target the hardcore gamer. Twitch said it now has more than 20 million viewers, who tune in every month to watch different channels based on games like World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Starcraft and Borderlands 2. As part of the experience, commentators provide feedback in real time.

The San Francisco company announced Twitch a year ago at E3, saying it would be an independent brand from Justin.TV. Five years prior to that, it was trying to build out a live video platform on the Web. Now, Twitch has nearly taken over.

“We launched Twitch a little over a year ago, and already we have more than 20 million unique viewers per month,” said Emmett Shear, CEO of Twitch. “Our current team has put us at the forefront of the live videogame streaming movement, and we can now invest aggressively to support our growing community with new ways to stream, watch, and chat.”

Similar to live sports on TV, Twitch makes money by playing advertisements during the game play. It has also experimented with a subscription model, where fans pay a monthly fee. Additionally, the game players get paid to broadcast their videos on the site.

Also meddling in the space is Los Angeles-based Machinima, which racks up millions of page views a month on other sites, including YouTube and Facebook.

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