Twitch will be ceasing operations in South Korea due to the “prohibitively expensive” operational cost of running the streaming platform in the country, CEO Dan Clancy said Tuesday. According to the blog post, Twitch will stop service in Korea on Feb. 27, exiting a country known for being a global center of gaming and esports.
The blog emphasized that the cost of running Twitch in Korea presented a “unique situation.” In Korea, broadband has additional service fees that make streaming there more expensive. Before announcing this change, Twitch tried a peer-to-peer model for source quality and switched the source quality maximum to 720p, but it didn’t lower costs enough. According to Twitch, the network fees were still “10 times more expensive than in most other countries.”
Ending service in Korea will likely present challenges to both creators and the overall popularity of the Twitch platform. Although prestigious tournaments can be held in different countries and major competitions are streamed to YouTube already — the 2024 League of Legends World Championship will be held in London — Korea is a major hub for competitive esports. The country is home to many of the top teams for popular games like League of Legends and Twitch owes much of its early growth to the global popularity of Korean esports. Now, eager viewers will likely turn to YouTube as the defacto streaming platform if they want to watch Korean players.
In some cases, this might mean that professional streamers will have to restart on another platform. Yummy_2, a popular streamer known for just chatting and sports streams, exclaimed in a video, “I lost my job! My career! Everything that I made — I made partner streamer — everything will be gone!”
To that end, Clancy said the Twitch team will help Korean streamers move their communities to other livestreaming platforms and that the company will be hosting a Q&A for the Korean community on Dec. 5.
“I want to reiterate that this was a very difficult decision and one we are very disappointed we had to make. Korea has always and will continue to play a special role in the international esports community and we are incredibly grateful for the communities they built on Twitch.”