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Twitch is just another piece of the video content portfolio at Amazon’s upfront debut

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Amazon spent the bulk of its May 14 upfront presentation showcasing its massive and still-growing content portfolio — but for the most part, Twitch was absent from the proceedings. The few times Twitch was mentioned, it was framed as more of a brand for gamers than a major streaming platform in its own right, providing a window into Amazon’s changing approach to the service.

Twitch came up exactly three times during Tuesday’s upfront presentation, which was Amazon’s first-ever television upfront. Two of those times were in passing: there was a slide of celebrity presenter Keke Palmer streaming on Twitch, as well as a snippet of a Twitch stream included amid a slideshow of other Amazon properties such as “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” “Thursday Night Football” and “The Boys.”

Fleeting as it was, the latter mention provided some insight into the way Amazon is increasingly approaching Twitch as the gamer-oriented facet of its broader video content portfolio as the company looks to become more attractive to brands. Instead of meriting its own upfront presentation as an advertising platform for brands looking to reach gamers, Twitch is another piece of inventory underneath the Prime Video umbrella.

“We’ve been building Prime Video into a one-stop entertainment destination — the first place people go to find the programming they love,” head of Prime Video and Amazon MGM Studios Mike Hopkins said during the presentation.

The most in-depth mention of Twitch came roughly an hour into the upfront presentation, when Amazon’s head of U.S. agency and Twitch sales Sarah Iooss took to the stage to announce a “Fortnite” virtual experience integration tool called “The Glitch.”

“We are building for our gaming communities on Twitch ‘The Glitch,’ which will give your brands the ability to integrate into a galaxy of brand-customized playable worlds, distributed in ‘Fortnite’ and promoted by our Twitch streamers,” Iooss said.

Amazon’s romance with gamers is far from over, whether the company looks to reach them through Twitch or through original content. Tuesday’s upfront presentation was full of praise for Prime Video’s “Fallout” series, which Hopkins said has been watched by over 80 million viewers in the month since its release. The presentation also included the announcement of another video-game-inspired Prime Video show, this time based on the popular video game series “Tomb Raider.”

And Twitch is still full-steam-ahead on the development of new tools and features intended to improve the platform for both advertisers and creators, the relative lack of mentions during Tuesday’s upfront presentation notwithstanding. Earlier this month, for example, Twitch launched its first-ever Discovery Feed, a scrollable feed on the Twitch mobile app that allows users to more easily peruse videos and clips from streamers that they don’t already follow.

“Advertisers usually want a seamless and premium ad experience. The ads we show in the Discover Feed meet this need,” said Twitch vp of product, community products, Jeremy Forrester. “The ads shown offer an experience on par with other social platforms. The ads served here are full-screen, which is effective in capturing the attention of viewers.”

Still, Amazon’s decision to prioritize its slate of original content during Tuesday’s upfront raises questions about whether the company views Twitch as a business unit that must eventually become profitable — or as a more of a brand affinity tool to help build a connection with gamers. As Amazon brings more parts of Twitch deeper into the company fold, it is beginning to stress other parts of its inventory in its conversations with marketers and advertisers.

“Prime Video delivers the best-in-class entertainment to tens of millions of customers worldwide,” head of Amazon and MGM Studios Jennifer Salke said during the presentation. “What we’ve shown you today is really just the beginning.”

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