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5 minutes read

Türkiye Considers Bans on Twitch and Kick

Türkiye has a history of cracking down on sites it deems harmful to its people, having banned over 137K sites in 2022 alone. Gambling in particular has been a constant concern, with the Turkish Information and Communications Technology Authority (BTK) closely monitoring its effect on Turkish youth. Twitch and Kick are now streaming sites are under the BTK’s lens, with recent bans enforced on Twitch and Kick. 

Turkish officials claimed that “Kick’s entry into Türkiye was to attract Turkish youth into roulette”, as reported by Ibrahim Haskoloğlu. As such, Kick was banned on the 22nd of February, with a ban for Twitch following two days later. Kick quickly responded however, with Kick’s partner manager in Türkiye, Trq, explaining that Kick was “banning gambling-related publications to users” in the region. As such, Kick was unblocked after just two days on the 26th of February, while Twitch was down for 5 days and came back up on the 29th of February.

With this back-and-forth over bans in Türkiye, the streaming landscape has changed. Kick has gained considerable ground on Twitch by eschewing its dependence on gambling streams. But analysis shows Kick was already overtaking the Turkish streaming space even prior to these bans. So which platform came out better from the controversy?

Streaming Takes a Hit in Türkiye Due To Bans, but Rebounds Quickly

Unsurprisingly, the bans on Twitch and Kick created a void in viewership for their duration. Kick dropped down to an average minute viewership (AMA) of just 99 in Türkiye in the middle of its ban on the 25th of February, while Twitch dropped to an AMA of 2.9K on the 28th just before its ban was lifted. The platforms never hit zero despite the ban, most likely due to the use of VPNs and Turkish-speaking users outside of Türkiye still logging on to the platforms.

After the bans were lifted, both platforms rebounded as users flocked back. Kick, however, rebounded far more successfully than Twitch, exceeding its pre-ban AMA peak of 13K with a new peak of nearly 21K on the 28th of February. That’s a growth of roughly 61% over the course of the ban. Looking at the same metrics for Twitch, the more mature platform saw a drop in AMA from 50K to 30K – a 40% decrease. 

Bans Help Kick Continue to Gain Ground On Twitch in Türkiye

When regulatory action hits an industry, it creates a hotbed for change. The same holds here, with the streaming vacuum in Türkiye prompting many streamers to switch to Kick while Twitch was still down. Unique channels on Kick rose from 1.7K in the week preceding the ban to 2.5K following the ban, while Twitch’s unique channels dropped from 8.1K to 6.5K following its ban. This is just the most recent downturn in regional Twitch viewership, following Twitch’s shutdown in Korea on the 27th of February.

It’s worth noting that even prior to the bans, Kick was gaining momentum in Türkiye. In the first week of 2024, hours watched on the platform sat at just 24K. But in the week prior to the bans, hours watched had risen to 284K – a massive 1000% rise. It seems that Kick was intent on establishing their presence in the region, weathering the storm through a two-day ban to stay on track.

The top Turkish-speaking streamers drove this shift from Twitch to Kick, generating more hours watched on Kick following the bans. Eray, a Turkish streamer known for his VALORANT gameplay, virtually disappeared from Twitch, with his hours watched dropping from 607K to 97K from January to February. Hype, meanwhile, practically fully transitioned from Twitch to Kick, with his hours watched on Twitch dropping 86% while his hours watched on Kick remained stable with a growth of 8%.

Overall, between the top Turkish streamers, Kick managed to hold their ground with a nearly net 0% loss of hours watched due to the ban. Kick’s quick response to the bans may have saved them from losing the trust of users, keeping them on the platform over the 2 day ban.

Kick Retains Viewership in Türkiye By Cutting Down on Gambling Content

As mentioned earlier, part of the reason Kick’s ban was lifted before Twitch was supposedly due to Kick taking action to limit the spread of gambling content on their platform in Türkiye. This certainly seems backed by the relative amount of gambling being viewed on each platform, with Kick’s gambling content contributing only 3.7% of the platform’s total hours watched in Türkiye for February. Twitch’s gambling content, meanwhile, amounts to 18.7% of their total hours watched – nearly one-fifth of total viewership.

This may come as a surprise considering the backlash Twitch has faced over gambling content in the past. In 2022, Twitch banned certain gambling streams following threats of a strike from creators like Pokimane and Mizkif. This paved the way for Kick’s founding in October of 2022, backed by parent site Stake.com which hoped to find an alternative route for gambling streaming. As a result, Kick has been saddled with the assumption that it is primarily motivated by gambling content.

In 2024, Kick is proving that’s clearly not the case, willing to cut gambling content to prove itself a safe space for users. Kick’s relatively small reliance on gambling content in Türkiye is no coincidence. Up until December of 2023, gambling contributed to 33.3% of Kick’s total hours watched in Türkiye, but Kick’s response to government concerns dropped it down ten-fold to the aforementioned 3.7% for February.

In an August 2023 interview with streamer Big E, Kick’s Head of Product Paul Chianese asserted that “Kick was never founded because we wanted people to go directly to Stake”, reasserting that he doesn’t see Kick as a platform designed for gambling streaming. Their shift away from gambling content in Türkiye supports this ethos. Twitch, on the other hand, has not put their money where their mouth is. Gambling has consistently contributed to roughly 18% of Twitch’s viewership in Türkiye even in the wake of the ban, showing no signs of concession to the BTK’s concerns.

Türkiye has taken a hard-line approach to online censorship, even banning its most popular social media site Ekşi Sözlük in 2023. It remains to be seen if streamers can prove to the BTK that their sites are safe for users, or if they will need to take further measures to retain access in Türkiye. Stream Hatchet will be watching as the situation evolves, tracking gambling streaming on both Twitch and Kick.

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