Twitch Prime expands Amazon, Twitch synergies

With its new Twitch Prime service, Amazon looks to grow not only its Prime membership ranks, but also gain converts to its Twitch video game streaming service.

Amazon acquired Twitch two years ago for nearly $1 billion. Once a channel on the live video website, Twitch has accumulated more than 100 million community members to the free service where they can watch more than 2 million streamers, most of whom play and talk about video games.

By subscribing to Twitch Prime ($10.99 monthly, or $99 for the year, after free 30-day trial), users will get all of the Amazon Prime features as well as those in the current Twitch Turbo service, which for $8.99 monthly gives subscribers increased customization, ad-free video and storage. Amazon Prime perks include free shipping of products ordered and access to Prime Video and Prime Music services. (Current Amazon Prime members need only connect their Twitch account to join in; Turbo members can keep their current membership, but no new Turbo subscriptions will be sold in U.S.)

Twitch Prime members also get a free subscription to a channel run by one of the 15,000 partner streamers (currently $4.99 each month) -- broadcasters get paid for each sub, viewers get perks such as chatting and playing against the streamer.

Also included: discounted prices on video games ordered on Amazon during pre-order period and up to two weeks after a new release and regular free game loot, such as Twitch customizable "skins," free game downloads (the first being PC game Streamline) and downloadable characters (through Nov. 6, one for the game Hearthstone: Heroes of WarCraft).

"Our goal for Twitch Prime is to make this undeniably the best deal for gamers online," said Twitch CEO Emmett Shear, who announced the live launch of the offering at TwitchCon, the streamer's gathering in San Francisco running through Sunday. "We would like to get it to the point where, to crib (Amazon founder and CEO) Jeff Bezos here, you are almost irresponsible if you are not a Twitch Prime subscriber."

The Amazon Prime-Twitch integration has been in the works for a while, Shear said. "The question came up, 'How could we work with Prime?' and it was asked by our user base a lot. The hard part was figuring out the economics and exactly what we could offer that would be really compelling to our customers."

Twitch also plans to bring uploads to the service, which until now has focused on live streaming. "We are involving the community in the design of that feature," Shear said.

And the ability to offer better quality video options will begin rolling out to even more streamers so viewers with all levels of Internet speeds can have a "much better broadcast experience," he said, "That is going to be transformative for streamers to get started on Twitch."

Earlier at TwitchCon, Amazon Game Studios announced several new games in the works including Breakaway, a four vs. four fighting game, with built-in Twitch streaming features and wagering using proprietary Stream+ in-game currency.

Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.


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