Local TV without explaining the reasons did not broadcast the competition for one of the most popular and fast-growing sports in the country.
On September 21, the Chinese authorities blocked the largest streaming service, Twitch, owned by Amazon. It happened shortly after the influx of Chinese eSports fans – they watched the resource of broadcast matches for the Asian Games, which were not broadcast on local television.
Despite the relatively small popularity of Twitch in the country, the blockage indicates a continuation of the government’s campaign to restrict access to foreign services.
Ban against a background of growing popularity
August 18 in Jakarta (Indonesia) started the Asian Games, among the unofficial sports on which was e-sports. This sporting trend is very popular in China – the local e-sports market is estimated at more than 32 billion dollars. This is an absolute record even in comparison with the United States and South Korea.
Despite the great expectation of the Asian Games in China, for some reason the competitions were not broadcast on television. After that, in the largest Chinese social network Weibo began to appear lists of foreign sites, where the broadcasts are broadcast free of charge. In the list was and Twitch, which, unlike other resources, was not blocked and did not require a VPN for access from China.
Asian Games ended September 2. By this time, American streaming service grew in the rating of free applications in the local AppStore (Google services are blocked in the country, so the statistics of popularity among Android users is unknown) and by the middle of September took the third place.
The Chinese authorities did not explain the blocking of Twitch in any way on September 21. According to the management of the American company, they also did not name the reason for the blockade. Users of Chinese social networks agreethat this is part of government censorship and the fight against foreign services.
Blocking as part of promoting local services
By popularity in China, Twitch and close can not be compared with the local Huya service. At the end of 2017, his audience was 610,000 active streamers per month, compared to 551,000 on Twitch. Between these resources there are also several key differences: for example, on Twitch, the chat room is located on the side of the streamer screen. Huya and his analogue Douyu went further, giving the opportunity for comments of viewers to freely navigate the screen.
The Chinese market of streaming takes a leading position in the world. Monthly live broadcasts are viewed by more than 100 million people, mostly interested in cybersport matches. According to the international consulting firm Deloitte, by the end of 2018 the annual income of streaming in China will be 4.4 billion dollars, which is 32% more than in 2017.
As Forbes writes , streaming services in China have become the most profitable tool for local electronic commerce. The largest share in this market is occupied by Alibaba, as well as the company-owner of the Weibo social network.
Twitch for a long time avoided government censorship, successfully working in China – the authorities consistently deprive the inhabitants of access to foreign resources, in return offering a local alternative. Specialists in cyber defense and criticism of the Chinese Communist Party believe that it is the tactics of import substitution of foreign resources that allows authorities to more effectively monitor the actions of citizens on the Internet.
Here is a list of key Chinese analogues of foreign services that have been blocked.
- Search Engines – Google = Baidu;
- Online stores – Amazon, eBay = Taobao, Tmall;
- Internet payment – PayPal, ApplePay = Alipay, WeChatPay;
- Video Hosting – YouTube, Hulu, Netflix = QIY, YouKU, Tencent Video;
- Messengers -WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger = QQ, WeChat;
- Social Network – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram = Weboo, WeChat;
- Taxi – Uber, Lyft = DiDi;
- Rental housing – Airbnb = Xiaozhu;
- Find a partner or group of friends: Tinder = Tantan, Momo;
- Streaming – Twitch = Huya, Douyu.
If in the near future the authorities do not change their decision on blocking, then Twitch will join the list of foreign companies that are blocked in China.