(Combines stories on Amazon announcing the deal with background; adds comments from Amazon, details)
By Deepa Seetharaman and Malathi Nayak
SAN FRANCISCO Aug 25 Amazon.com Inc on Monday said it will buy live-streaming gaming network Twitch Interactive for about $970 million in cash, marking one of the U.S. e-commerce company's largest deals to date.
The move reflects Amazon's mounting investments in original television and gaming content over the last few years as the company branches out into businesses beyond retail.
The deal is expected to close in the second half of the year, Amazon said in a statement.
"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," Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said in a statement.
Google Inc was previously in talks to buy Twitch, which launched in June 2011, a source briefed on the deal said.
Twitch's format, which lets viewers message players and each other during live play, is garnering interest as one of the fastest-growing segments of digital video streaming, which in turn is attracting more and more advertising dollars.
Twitch raised $20 million in funding last September from game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software and firms such as Bessemer Venture Partners and Thrive Capital.
"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." (Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman and Malathi Nayak; Editing by Leslie Adler)