Twitch, a live-streaming gaming platform, is shutting down operations in South Korea on February 27, 2024, citing costs as the driving factor behind this decision.
The company’s CEO, Dan Clancy, shared the shutdown timeline in a blog post on December 5. Although users will still be able to access streams, they will not be able to monetize or spend money on the platform starting in February. This not only affects users within Korea but also streamers who are based elsewhere but have a big following in the country.
On February 26, users in Korea won’t be able to make purchases on Twitch. On February 27, streamers who selected Korea as their country will no longer be able to monetize through Twitch products. Users will receive their final payout on March 16, and on June 4, affiliates and partners will be off-boarded from Twitch.
“Ultimately, the cost to operate Twitch in Korea is prohibitively expensive, and we have spent significant effort working to reduce these costs so that we could find a way for the Twitch business to remain in Korea,” said Clancy.
Twitch has tried to reduce costs to keep the platform operating in Korea without success. The company attempted a “peer-to-peer model for source quality” and adjusted quality to a maximum of 720 p, down from 1080 p in September 2022. The platform also blocked South Korean streamers from uploading video-on-demand content the same year.
Despite these changes, Twitch’s network fees in Korea are ten times more expensive than in other countries, causing the company to operate there at a “significant loss,” and the decision to shut down has been finalized.
Twitch isn’t the only company struggling to stay active in Korea due to telecommunication companies feuding with global content providers such as Google and Network, a global distribution company, over excessively high charges to operate in the country. In September, Netflix settled a three-year lawsuit with South Korean internet provider SK Broadband over $23 million in network fees from streaming Squid Games, according to The Verge.
Twitch said the company realizes how much time and effort users put into their online communities and plans to help them find new digital homes on alternative live-streaming platforms still operating in Korea. Although the blog did not mention which companies, Twitch said it is reaching out to several of these services to help with the transition and will keep impacted streamers in the loop.
“I want to reiterate that this was a very difficult decision and one we are very disappointed we had to make,” said Clancy. “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.”
Twitch held a live stream on December 6 to answer questions and direct users to its help page for more information.