Indicating a possible deep dive into web video, Amazon is paying close to $1bn for Twitch Interactive, the online platform that allows people to watch others play video games.

Amazon said more than 55m unique visitors viewed more than 15bn minutes of content on Twitch in July.

The retail giant will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Twitch for approximately $970m in cash, as adjusted for the assumption of options and other items. 

Subject to customary closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2014.

Twitch launched in 2011. The Wall Street Journal cited research by DeepField claiming Twitch to be the fourth biggest source of US internet traffic after Netflix, Google and Apple.

“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,” said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos (pictured).

“Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community.”

“Amazon and Twitch optimise for our customers first and are both believers in the future of gaming,” said Twitch CEO Emmett Shear. “Being part of Amazon will let us do even more for our community. We will be able to create tools and services faster than we could have independently. This change will mean great things for our community, and will let us bring Twitch to even more people around the world.”