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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Confirming reports from earlier this morning, Amazon announced this afternoon that it has agreed to acquire video game streaming site Twitch for $970 million in cash.

This is Amazon’s biggest acquisition in its 21-year history, and particularly noteworthy given that Google had reportedly agreed to purchase Twitch for about same price just last month. In its last earnings report, Amazon noted $5 billion in cash — so the company just spent about 20 percent of that on Twitch.

Twitch, which lets users stream their video game sessions, has more than 55 million monthly active users and has raised $35 million since debuting in 2011. Over the past three years, the San Francisco-based company has become the ESPN of the video game industry, where viewers go to watch live footage of video games being played. Last month, Twitch users viewed more than 15 billion minutes of content produced by more than 1 million broadcasters.

Twitch lets users stream their live gameplay footage.
Twitch lets users stream their live gameplay footage.

In a statement, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that “like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently.”

“Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month — from The International, to breaking the world record for Mario, to gaming conferences like E3. And, amazingly, Twitch is only three years old,” Bezos said.

twitch2While Google buying Twitch made sense — gamers already upload tons of gaming content to YouTube — an Amazon acquisition is a little more curious. The company isn’t a big player in the gaming scene, although its $99 Fire TV set-top box does play Android-based games with an Amazon controller. Amazon has also bolstered its Amazon Game Studios team with top talent this year.

As far as future plans with Twitch, Bezos noted that “we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community.”

In a letter to the Twitch community, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear wrote that “we chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster.” He noted that Twitch will keep its own office, brand, “and most importantly our independence.”

“But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch,” wrote Shear.

The acquisition will close later this year.

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