December 14, 2017 // 11 a.m.
Video streaming service Twitch has announced it is shifting further away from gaming in the search of a larger audience, signing a deal with the National Basketball Association (NBA) G League to broadcast selected games live - and inviting users to provide colour commentary.
Originally founded as a platform for gamers to stream live footage, Twitch was acquired by Amazon for $970 million in 2014 after an earlier deal with Google fell apart due to concerns about antitrust issues. Since then the company has been teaming up with traditional celebrities, adding microtransactions, subscription offerings, and late last year launched the IRL (In Real Life) video category as part of a move to diversify away from gaming.
Now the company is spreading itself still thinner with the news of a partnership between Twitch and the US NBA G League which will see selected games broadcast live through the service - complete with colour commentary from 'more than a dozen top personalities', with whom viewers can interact using the site's chat system. Once broadcast, games will be available to watch on-demand.
'From day one, the NBA team got what Twitch is all about. We aren't a traditional sports experience on TV; we are much more,' crows Twitch's Michael Aragon of the deal. 'From our broadcasters to our engaged community to our interactive product that brings everyone together, collaborating with their team is going to bring a unique experience to basketball fans worldwide. We are thrilled to be working with the NBA G League and look forward to seeing the impact of social video on mainstream sports.'
'Our deal with Twitch will be groundbreaking,' adds NBA G League president Malcolm Turner. 'By leveraging fan commentary, new technology and a passionate community, Twitch elevates video in a unique, engaging way that resonates with young viewers. We look forward to collaborating with their team to create something truly special for basketball fans.'
Up to six games a week will be streamed during the 2017-2018 regular season, Twitch has confirmed, with more information available from the official website.