Google is reportedly in talks to buy the live-streaming video game service, Twitch, for $1 billion, according to a report from Variety.
If true, the reportedly all-cash deal would be the largest-ever acquisition for Google's YouTube video service, which itself was acquired by the tech giant in 2006 for $1.65 billion. YouTube has made a series of acquisitions and investments in its pursuit of becoming a destination for more original, high-quality content, and the report comes just months after Google named former advertising executive Susan Wojcicki to lead the YouTube team.
Twitch and Google declined to comment on the report.
Twitch is a service designed to let video gamers broadcast their games in real-time and has grown enormously in the past few years along with the popularity of "e-sports" -- the term used for broadcasts featuring professional video game players. In a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, Twitch ranked fourth in a ranking of peak Internet traffic in the U.S. -- ahead of Hulu.
The service was originally part of Justin.tv; the company changed its name to Twitch Interactive in February as a nod to how dominant the live-streaming game service is within the company.
Twitch users made headlines earlier this year when over 120,000 of its players participated in a crowd-controlled game of the first version of Pokemon and beat the title in a little over 16 days. It has also worked out several key partnerships with game companies and game console makers. Those with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles can stream gameplay from Twitch straight from their consoles, a move that offers the company an opportunity to greatly expand its audience.
Acquiring the service would not only give YouTube stronger footing in the race to court video gamers, but also provide it with a stronger live-streaming tool -- an aspect of programming that YouTube would be smart to strengthen as it looks to compete more heavily with television and other broadcast providers.