Amazon just bought the fourth-largest source of online traffic in its second-biggest purchase ever, the Wall Street Journal reports—but you may never have heard of the service in question. Twitch is an online channel that offers video gamers a chance to watch each other play. Amazon reached a deal yesterday to buy the service for $970 million, though the figure could break $1 billion if Twitch fulfills unnamed performance goals, an insider tells the Journal; the New York Times reports the figure as $1.1 billion. It's "a substantial step forward as we think about games generally," says Amazon's gaming VP.
Even if many of us aren't familiar with the service, a championship League of Legends game last year brought an audience bigger than that of the finales of Breaking Bad, the Sopranos, and 24 combined, the Journal notes. Twitch has about 55 million users and is responsible for some 2% of peak online traffic in this country. It's one of the 15 "most-trafficked" sites worldwide, the Times notes. "Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. "Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month." Mashable has a primer on Twitch here; other companies, including Google, have previously sought to buy it.