Live streaming hub Justin.tv rolled out its first major strike into the booming niche of competitive gameplay in online video with TwitchTV, a dedicated platform for users to broadcast their sick killshots live to the world.

Depending on where you stand on the debate over whether hardcore gamers are in fact athletes will determine whether you cringe or smile at the growing adoption of ‘e-sports’ as the nom de guerre for these fast-twitching competitive masters. The site is agressive targeting the e-sports community. Online video networks like Machinima and Break have long found viewers eating up screencasts of expert gameplay, with even its own emerging stars in this sub-genre like SeaNanners , who’s game walkthroughs have racked up over 81 million views on his YouTube channel.

So now Justin.TV, which is up to just over 300 million streams per month, jumps into a crowded, but arguably lucrative vertical with TwitchTV, which will face competition from similar hubs like own3D.tv, and potentially future encroachment from YouTube itself with its new live streaming offerings. But I found myself oddly captivated by some Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 screencasts, showing technique that I can only wish I had the time to work on myself.

The “Gaming With Zach” channel on TwitchTV:

Emmett Shear, co-founder and CTO of Justin.tv, will serve as general manager of TwitchTV, and he says it’s “just the start of what [they] want to build” with the new site. “We designed it to support the e-sports community,” said Shear. “Since everyone on the team is a gamer, it’s a site made by e-sports fans, for e-sports fans.”

Money for Gaming?

The biggest draw here for active gamers to stick around and grow their own followings is the YouTube-style partner program that dishes out ad revenue sharing with partners who have been vetted to be brand-safe. The partner program is live with select beta partners, and they are indeed making money, according to the company, though they can’t comment on specific dollar amounts. They did however mention that the TwitchTV team is also beta testing other revenue options including pay-per-view and subscriptions.

The TwitchTV site had already been soft launched a few months back and already draws an impressive 3.2 million uniques monthly, 4.5 hours of video viewed per person per month, and more than 45 million total monthly video views. The official launch is today at E3 video game conference in LA, where the site nabbed sponsor GameSpot to cover the live streaming of over 90 hours of E3 content from the show floor, including all major press conferences.

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