Caffeine.TV: The Twitch Competitor Backed By Drake | Forbes

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Published on 26 Feb 2020, 15:00
Caffeine is a live-streaming service that allows anyone — entertainers, athletes, esports stars, amateurs — to broadcast to fans, who can chat with each other and the person they are watching. Launched to the public in November, the free service that Apptopia estimates has been downloaded 1.6 million times is going head-to-head with Amazon’s Twitch, which has 40.1 million downloads over the last year, thanks to popular gamers such as Turner ‘Tfue’ Tenney and Timothy ‘TimTheTatman’ Betar. But Twitch is largely associated with streaming video games. Caffeine wants to go well beyond that, offering live sports, concerts and, yes, rap battles.

Caffeine founder Ben Keighran says he received a surprise call from Horowitz, an early backer and board member, who connected him with Drake’s manager during last June’s NBA finals. The discussion culminated in a deal that will bring Drake exclusively to Caffeine to co-produce monthly battles of rap skills with the Ultimate Rap League, starting Feb. 29. “This is a name that everybody knows,” says Keighran. Drake means “live broadcasting in a way that hasn’t been shown at this level before.”

Keighran’s vision for the future of entertainment, which he calls “social broadcasting,” attracted $46 million in investment in January 2018 from Silicon Valley firms Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners and celebrity backers Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Durant. Fox Chief Executive Lachlan Murdoch was similarly intrigued, and months later invested $100 million in Caffeine, at a valuation of $500 million, through his family’s media company, then known as 21st Century Fox. Together they set up a joint venture, Caffeine Studios, to produce esports, sports and live entertainment from the Fox studio lot in Los Angeles. “These big media companies are all hedging against the future,” says Doug Perlman, a sports media advisor.

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