China blocks Twitch after surge in popularity

Twitch’s app is no longer available in China.

Nicole Cozma/Techhnews

Twitch can’t get past the Great Firewall of China. 

The streaming service, mostly watched for eSports and gamers, has been blocked in China, a Twitch spokesman said in an email on Friday morning. Twitch declined to provide further comment.

Twitch’s app disappeared from the App Store in China, while its website was blocked earlier this week, according to Abacus News.  

The website, which Amazon bought for nearly $1 billion in 2014, has skyrocketed in popularity as viewers flock to watch eSports live. Twitch said it has 15 million daily active viewers who spend an average of 95 minutes watching content from 2.2 million streamers on its website. 

Before the ban, it was the third top free app on iOS. 

Twitch now joins a long list of internet giants with complicated relationships in China — including Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Reddit. It’s not the first instance of a ban on gaming content either, as China blocked all community pages for Steam earlier this year. 

For years, game consoles were also technically illegal in China. The shift comes as eSports continue to gain popularity, with one report predicting that the industry will make $900 million in revenue in 2018. 

Twitch has also given rise to new online stars, like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who will be the first eSports player on the cover of ESPN’s magazine

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