Twitch saw a tremendous uptick in popularity in China last month, becoming the third-most popular app on the iOS App Store, according to Abacus News. The surge was reportedly driven by the presence of esports at the 2018 Asian Games, which weren’t carried by state broadcaster CCTV but were available on Twitch.
That potential win for Twitch has turned sour, however, as Chinese authorities have responded by blocking Twitch outright. The website is no longer accessible in the country, and the app has been removed from the App Store. Twitch confirmed with the site that it has been blocked, but offered no other details.
It’s not necessarily a huge direct loss for Twitch, since it wasn’t much of a presence in China to begin with, but the success it enjoyed with the Asian Games esports stream could have been a big stepping-off point for further growth. But even though the block was apparently imposed without warning, it’s not exactly surprising: China has never been a beacon of online freedom, and recently seems to be cracking down even more forcefully than usual, including a full-on freeze of game license approvals last month.
I’ve reached out to Twitch for more information about the block, and the likelihood of a resolution that will see service restored, and will update if I receive a reply.