Twitch, the popular video streaming service, will close its services in South Korea next year, the company said Tuesday, after struggling for years with the high costs of operating in the country.
Twitch was once one of the most popular platforms for gamers in South Korea, even as it competed with domestic services like AfreecaTV and giants like YouTube, analysts say. The service, owned by Amazon, attracts about 35 million visitors a day worldwide, according to the company.
“Twitch was once in the driver’s seat among South Korean professional gamers for a while,” said Ha Jae-pil, an esports professor at Kookje University in South Korea. Some League of Legends, Overwatch and Apex Legends tournaments in the country were streamed exclusively on Twitch, he said.
then a degrade of video quality at a resolution known as 720p, which the company said reduced its operating costs, made text less readable and caused users to jump to YouTube, it said. “Twitch’s influence has weakened since then,” he said.
It now plans to close its business in South Korea on February 27, 2024.
“While we have reduced costs through these efforts, our network rates in Korea remain 10 times more expensive than in most other countries,” the company added. “Twitch has been operating in Korea at significant losses and, unfortunately, there is no path forward for our business to operate more sustainably in that country.”
High network usage fees in South Korea have sparked legal disputes. Netflix recently sued a South Korean Internet service provider, arguing that it had no obligation to pay network usage fees. In 2021, a court in Seoul upheld the supplier’s right to receive such fees.
Daniel Clancy, CEO of Twitch, saying on social media that “this was a very difficult decision that we delayed for some time,” adding that he was “aware that this will have a real impact on them.”
Twitch said it would help South Korean streamers on the platform emigrate to alternative services by lifting the ban on simulcasting on another platform and encouraging them to share links to their channels on other services.