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China blocks Twitch after surge in popularity

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Twitch's app is no longer available in China.

Nicole Cozma/CNET

Twitch can no longer get past the Great Firewall of China. 

The service, which livestreams video gameplay and esports tournaments, has been blocked in China, a Twitch spokesman said in an email Friday. Twitch declined to provide further comment.

Twitch's app disappeared from Apple's App Store in China and its website was blocked there earlier this week, according to Abacus News.  

Twitch, which Amazon bought for nearly $1 billion in 2014, has skyrocketed in popularity as viewers flock to watch esports live. Twitch said it has 15 million daily active viewers who spend an average of 95 minutes watching content from 2.2 million streamers on its website. 

Before the ban, Abacus News reported, Twitch was No. 3 free app in the App Store. 

Twitch now joins a long list of internet giants with complicated relationships in China. That list includes Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Reddit. The Twitch ban also isn't the first crackdown on gaming content. China blocked all community pages for Steam earlier this year. For years, game consoles were illegal in China. 

The Twitch ban comes as esports continue to gain popularity, with one report predicting that the industry will rake in $900 million in revenue in 2018. Twitch has also given rise to new online stars, like Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, who will be the first esports player on the cover of ESPN's magazine