According to "sources familiar with the pact", Variety is reporting that Google (specifically, YouTube) has already reached a deal to buy game streaming service Twitch. For, oh, $1 billion.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal disputes this, and claims that while a deal is indeed being worked on, "The talks are at an early stage, and a deal isn't imminent".
That's an insane amount of money, but then, thanks to the growing popularity of streaming - not to mention the fact Twitch has become a key player in the next-gen console marketplace - it might, in the long-run, turn out to be a savvy investment.
Variety reports, however, that it's not quite a done deal; seems Google's lawyers are ready for a challenge from the Justice Department on the grounds of competition issues, given the fact that both services are already #1 in their respective fields.
A recent report from networking company Sandvine says that Twitch has now broken into the top 15 users of bandwidth during peak hours in North America, growing from 0.46% of all "downstream bandwidth" in Fall 2013 to 1.35% by March this year.
It doesn't take long to envisage the potential pluses in such a deal. Twitch could definitely benefit from YouTube's tech and reliability. Then again, we have enough trouble with copyright claims on YouTube as it is. Bringing Twitch into that fold could be a nightmare-in-waiting...
We've contacted Twitch for comment, and will update if we hear back.
UPDATE (this is Twitch PR):
YouTube to Acquire Videogame-Streaming Service Twitch for $1 Billion: Sources [Variety]