Remember those days -- often good and old -- when you did things without every other person in the world knowing that you'd done a thing? Maybe you read a book and didn't review it on Amazon. Maybe your kid gurgled and Facebook didn't know. Well now we're expanding, and everyone can easily know that you're playing video games, too. With the launch of Sony's (NYSE: SNE ) PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT ) Xbox One, players can -- or will be able to -- easily tap into Twitch.tv, streaming their content for all the world to see.
Twitch sees subscribers jump
In October, Twitch was sitting on a healthy 600,000 broadcasters. These are gamers and enthusiasts that stream their gaming online for others to watch. Twitch has been growing in popularity, and the company announced partnerships with Sony and Microsoft to integrate the streaming service with the next generation of consoles. In November, when the consoles launched, Twitch broadcasters jumped up over 15% to 700,000 .
Many of those additional streams are coming from the PlayStation 4, which has a 'share' button on the controller, allowing players to jump onto Twitch . According to a memo from Twitch, PlayStation 4 owners are now streaming 10% of all the content on the site, measured by time . That number is likely to jump again in January as wrapped PlayStations find their way out from under the tree and into the living rooms of America.
The Xbox lags behind
Because of the simple integration found on the PlayStation, Sony says that users have streamed over 325,000 hours of live gaming . The Xbox One hasn't announced similar success because it had to delay its integration with Twitch until 2014. On top of the delay, gamers will need to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription to use the service -- that costs $60 a year.
While Microsoft hasn't made any mention of it, the success of PlayStation's sharing integration with Twitch could provide the impetus to open the service up to all Xbox One players. After all, content consumed on Twitch is effectively an advertisement for gamers who don't own the game being streamed.
Regardless of who streams the most, it's clear that gaming as a spectator sport is firing up for a run. The success of Twitch and similar companies like Ustream -- which can also be accessed via the PlayStation's share button -- may even point the way to a popular form of video game watching, where spectators root for favorites and have branded merchandise. That's still a ways off, but the path is becoming clearer every day.
The war for your living room rages on
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