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Deals Mark End of an Era for Video Startups

A wave of acquisitions is bringing an abrupt end to a brief era of startup fever in the online video business, with companies that once looked poised to challenge the big media conglomerates instead becoming their digital beachheads and proving grounds for new talent.

The latest turn in the cycle comes with the news that Twitch, the popular live video-streaming service, is in talks to be acquired by Google. Bankers had been exploring selling Twitch over the past month or so, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The prospective deal comes on the heels of Disney’s acquisition of Maker Studios, Chernin Entertainment’s purchase of a controlling stake in Crunchyroll, Dreamworks Animation’s acquisition of AwesomenessTV (and later acquisition of BigFrame), and a flurry of buyout discussions around Fullscreen, the last large  YouTube network that’s still independent.

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Maker was moving in that direction even before the Disney deal: Earlier this month it unveiled its owned and operated streaming site Maker.tv, which is intended to be more brand-focused than YouTube. For its part, Fullscreen seems focused on mobile and yet-to-be released product from the team of app-makers it got when it acquired Viddy earlier this year.

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For the YouTube-based networks, maintaining an independent voice could prove difficult if the parent companies view them primarily as a means of delivering advertising to a young demographic.