STREAM REPORT NEWSLETTER

#118

Twitch is Shutting Down in Korea

December 6, 2023

Welcome to Stream Report, a newsletter from Gaming Careers covering important news and updates in streaming and content creation.

In this issue: We examine Twitch's farewell to the Korean market, discuss the rise of multistreaming, and unpack the debate surrounding Mountain Dew's AI-driven campaign on Twitch.

Twitch Waves Goodbye to Korea

Twitch Waves Goodbye to Korea
Twitch Waves Goodbye to Korea

In a move that caught the live-streaming community off guard, Twitch CEO Dan Clancy revealed in a blog post that the platform will terminate its services in Korea. The closure, set for February 27, 2024, has sparked widespread discussion and concern among gamers and content creators who have relied on Twitch as a major broadcasting outlet.

Financial Challenges Prompt Closure

Twitch’s exit from Korea is driven by financial challenges, specifically the country’s prohibitive network fees. Despite Twitch’s attempts to manage costs, the fees remained ten times higher even after implementing several strategies. This financial strain has made it difficult for Twitch to sustain its Korean operations, leading to the decision to shut down.

Twitch’s Cost-Cutting Efforts

To combat the high network fees, Twitch employed several strategies, including:

  • Shifting to a peer-to-peer model for source-quality streaming
  • Limiting the maximum source quality to 720p
  • Blocking Korean streamers from posting video-on-demand footage

Despite these efforts, the costs continued to pose an insurmountable challenge.

Support for Streamers

In light of the upcoming shutdown, Twitch has committed to assisting Korean streamers in transitioning to alternative services. This support is crucial as content creators seek new platforms to continue their live-streaming careers.

Esports Broadcasts in Limbo

The future of esports events, such as the League of Champions Korea (LCK), which has been traditionally streamed on both Twitch and YouTube, is now uncertain.

Industry-Wide Implications

The issue of high network fees is not exclusive to Twitch; it affects all foreign content providers in Korea. Platforms like Kick, which also utilize Amazon Interactive Video Service, will face similar financial obstacles if they continue to operate in Korea.

My Two Cents

This development is not entirely surprising for those familiar with Korea’s history of network usage. The country has historically imposed higher fees on foreign content providers, leading to disputes with companies like Netflix. The dominant Internet providers in Korea appear to resist the success of foreign platforms.

When Twitch capped streaming quality at 720p, it already lost a substantial number of Korean streamers, many of whom migrated to YouTube or the local service AfreecaTV for a better viewer experience. I predict that Korean creators catering primarily to local audiences will likely shift to AfreecaTV, while those with Western followers will turn to YouTube. This scenario underscores the challenges foreign content providers face in Korea, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more platforms forced to close operations.

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Multistreaming Takes Center Stage

Multistreaming Takes Center Stage
Multistreaming Takes Center Stage

YouTube streamer Ludwig is embracing multistreaming for his upcoming events, joining the ranks of streamers broadening their audiences since Twitch eased up on its exclusivity requirements.

Inaugural Multistream Event

Ludwig’s Creator Dodgeball Championship will be the first event to be streamed across multiple platforms. This event will feature teams from YouTube, Twitch, and Kick, showcasing a diverse mix of the online creator community. Ludwig, while part of Team YouTube, will broadcast the event on both his YouTube channel and his Mogul Moves Twitch channel. He plans to host similar large-scale events every two months, with his regular content remaining exclusive to YouTube.

The move to simulcast coincides with Ludwig’s renegotiated contract with YouTube, which allows for such dual-platform events. Ludwig aims to maximize viewership and cultural impact, as he highlighted in a recent YouTube video, rather than focus purely on revenue.

Critique of YouTube’s Focus

In a recent video, Ludwig voiced his concerns that YouTube’s efforts are more directed towards competing with TikTok through short, vertical videos rather than enhancing the live streaming experience. This has influenced his decision to adopt a multistreaming approach to better connect with live audiences.

The Broadening Horizons for Creators

Ludwig’s strategy is indicative of a larger movement among creators who value the flexibility to stream across various platforms. This marks a shift away from traditional platform exclusivity, signifying a new era for content creators where they can reach wider audiences without being tied to a single service.

My Thoughts

It’s exciting to witness established and rising creators harness the power of multistreaming to diversify their reach. This strategic move is a testament to the importance of not putting all your eggs in one basket, a piece of advice I’ve long advocated for. The ability to stream on multiple platforms adds an extra layer of security to a creator’s content portfolio.

I’m particularly impressed by those like Ludwig pushing the boundaries of production value by venturing into ambitious projects rather than sticking to the conventional streaming format. These high-stakes events may be a gamble financially, but they capture attention beyond the streaming community, drawing in new viewers and growing the audience for live streams. These kinds of initiatives can spark broader interest in the world of streaming, which is undoubtedly a positive development for the industry.

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Twitch’s AI Raid Campaign Stirs Debate

Twitchs AI Raid Campaign Stirs Debate
Twitch’s AI Raid Campaign Stirs Debate

Mountain Dew has launched a new campaign in collaboration with Twitch, titled “Mtn Dew Raid,” which utilizes AI technology to detect Mountain Dew branding during live streams. This initiative has sparked a contentious debate surrounding privacy and the role of AI in the realm of advertising.

Running from December 1st to December 8th, 2023, the “Mtn Dew Raid” uses Unit9’s image recognition software to spot Mountain Dew products within live broadcasts. When the AI detects the branding, a bot is triggered to engage with the chat, which could lead to the stream being spotlighted on Twitch’s homepage. Despite the potential exposure, the campaign’s reliance on AI has been met with resistance from streamers, with some considering the possibility of banning the bot from their channels due to privacy concerns.

Community Reactions

While there are incentives and promotional opportunities for streamers who participate by featuring Mountain Dew, the sentiments within the community are mixed:

  • Privacy Concerns: The use of AI to scan live streams has sparked debates over the implications for streamer and viewer privacy.
  • Pushback Against AI: Many content creators are expressing discomfort with AI’s intrusion into their streaming environments.

Is This Really The Future of Ads?

The “Mtn Dew Raid” initiative by Mountain Dew doesn’t come as a shock to me, considering the trajectory of AI in content monitoring. We’ve seen technology scanning for copyrighted elements in streams for a while now, so its application in marketing seems like a natural progression. Nevertheless, the community’s apprehensions are entirely justified.

When it comes to Mountain Dew’s response to the backlash, the old adage “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” might be put to the test. While the campaign has certainly generated buzz, the type of attention it’s receiving may not be what the brand anticipated.

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News Highlights

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#118

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The founder of Gaming Careers with a borderline unhealthy obsession for cameras, microphones, and all things streaming. He gets mistaken for Stephen Merchant at least 5 times a day.

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