Twitch.TV is currently one of the biggest and most profitable media sites on the internet, and why? Because people want to watch other people play video games. But Twitch wasn’t built for video games. In fact, no streaming service was. However, it’s very likely that we wouldn’t see Twitch, Ustream, or any of our most popular streaming services today if video games didn’t exist.
Let’s travel back in time. Back before Twitch.TV even existed. Back before anyone really understood that people wanted to watch other people play video games over the internet. Back to the days of Justin.TV.
Many of you probably don’t know what Justin.TV is. Essentially, it was what came before Twitch.TV. The idea was that it would be a counterpart to Youtube, but while Youtube specialized in the uploading of videos, Justin.TV, formed by Justin Kan, would specialize in live TV.
When Justin.TV first came about, it was a restricted service. It only offered a couple different channels, one of which featured Justin himself “lifecasting” his life. This lifecasting trend continued for quite a while, as people would use cameras to allow people to follow their lives, usually when they traveled or otherwise had an interesting experience.
Justin.TV was launched in 2007, and was exclusive for a year, until 2008. At that point, it opened up to the internet and its simple 60 channels, ballooned up to 30,000 in categories like People, Sports, Music, Gaming, News, Tech, Animals, Entertainment, and more.
It was easily the gaming side of Justin.TV that was most popular. While other streaming categories usually required some sort of elaborate cam setup, anyone with capture software and optionally a mic could stream video games. It was easy to get into and became ludicrously popular in very short order. In fact, it became so popular that the gaming section was split off into another site, Twitch.TV.
Justin.TV lasted for several more years, only officially going under last year. As time went on, Twitch became bigger and bigger. The parent company of both Justin.TV and Twitch.TV was renamed to Twitch Interactive, as Twitch began to become the main platform the company focused on. Eventually Justin.TV closed its doors to concentrate on Twitch.TV, which had gotten big enough that it was the preferred platform for streaming all video game events, from League of Legends to the EVO fighting game championships. It even has integrated functionality in the PS4 and Xbox One.
And that is just a brief history of the relationship between Justin.TV and Twitch.TV. In the end, it was video gaming that propelled streaming services to their current heights. While lifestreaming was an interesting idea, the simple ease and accessibility to streaming your games is what made Twitch take off like it did. There are still plenty of streaming services that will allow you to stream things other than video games, but Twitch.TV is the most popular service on the internet.