Justin.tv Broadcasts Gamers’ Every Move on TwitchTV

An online TV station is launching today to broadcast people playing video games live over the Internet.

It may be a small niche, but it’s a highly profitable one.

TwitchTV is being unveiled today at E3 by Justin.tv, the San Francisco company, which has spent the better part of the past five years building out a live video platform on the Web.

Today’s launch represents the first time it has split off some of its content into an independent brand.

TwitchTV will serve as a meeting place for hardcore gamers who want to watch professional and celebrity players play games live, much how sports fanatics want to watch a basketball or football game live on ESPN.

The video is captured from the TV screen and often accompanied by play-by-play narration.

Justin.tv’s CEO Michael Seibel said “e-sports” has been surprisingly successful since they started playing it six months ago. “It has become a good portion of our revenues,” he said. “It’s been a cash driver from the get-go. Gaming content monetizes really well.”

Every month, TwitchTV is generating roughly 3.2 million unique visits, 4.5 hours of video per person and more than 45 million total video views. Today, the most popular game being played is StarCraft II.

“We have good relationships with the game publishers,” said Emmett Shear, Justin.tv’s co-founder and CTO. “We’ve noticed that they are hyper-engaged in e-sports. We’ve been talking to studios to make games better for e-sports, by developing features that make better observer modes.”

Both the company and the professional game players are making money on broadcasting games live. Similar to live sports on TV, which have commercials, so does e-sports. Justin.tv is also experimenting with a subscription model, where fans will pay $5 a month or $25 for a season pass.

Also meddling in the space is Los Angeles-based Machinima, which racks up half a billion page views on YouTube in one month.

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