The move, announced late on Monday, is the largest deal in Amazon’s 20-year history, reports The Telegraph. It is expected to close in the second half of the year.
Amazon beat tech rival Google, which had reportedly been in talks to buy Twitch but backed out because of competition law concerns. Yahoo had also made an approach to the firm.
The firm raised $20m (£12.1m) in funding last September from game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software and firms including Bessemer Venture Partners and Thrive Capital. Twitch’s format, which lets viewers message players and each other during live play, has gained interest as one of the fastest-growing segments of digital video streaming, which in turn is attracting more and more advertising dollars.
More than 55m unique visitors viewed more than 15bn minutes of content on Twitch in July.
“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,” said Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon.
Investors have noticed Twitch’s rapid growth, from some 3.2m players when it initially launched in 2011. Some of its most-followed players rake in six-figure salaries through a 50-50 split in advertising revenue, $5 monthly subscriptions to livestream channels, and even spontaneous donations from fans.
“We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence,” Emmett Shear, CEO, said in a blog post. “But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.”