Fox sinks $100M into Twitch competitor Caffeine

Caffeine is a social broadcasting platform focusing on video gaming and esports. (Caffeine)

21st Century Fox is investing $100 million in social broadcasting platform Caffeine, a competitor to Amazon’s streaming platform Twitch.

Fox’s investment is going into Caffeine and a newly formed venture called Caffeine Studios that is jointly owned by Fox Sports and Caffeine. Fox Sports will lend its expertise around live events and programming to create exclusive esports, video game, sports and live entertainment content for Caffeine.

Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman at Fox, will join Caffeine's board. Fox's stakes in both Caffeine and Caffeine Studios will be part of the proposed new "Fox," the company that will be formed out of what’s left after the Disney acquisition.

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"The combination of the Caffeine platform with a content studio that benefits from Fox Sports' expertise in live events and programming will help position Caffeine to deliver compelling experiences in esports, video gaming and entertainment," said Murdoch in a statement. "We are excited to partner with Caffeine and build something special for fans in the growing live social streaming esports and gaming space."

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Caffeine, which is still in prerelease, is going after Twitch by targeting live video game streaming and esports, two categories that have thrived on Twitch.

For Fox, the investment and agreement with Caffeine makes Fox just the latest traditional broadcaster and media company going after the emerging esports market. WarnerMedia and Disney already have esports content deals in place. Turner has ELeague, which broadcasts esports events on TBS, and ESPN and Disney XD have signed programming deals with Overwatch League and Madden.

These deals are helping esports find a bigger audience in the U.S. Research firm Parks Associates estimates 10% of U.S. households watch esports.

Existing Caffeine investors Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners also participated in the funding round.

Caffeine also announced a content agreement with Live Nation to bring livestreamed concerts to its platform later this year.