Tencent-backed live-streaming platform Douyu pulled from app stores in China
The removal from app stores, which comes amid an ongoing content crackdown in China, would prevent new users from downloading the app but not affect current users
Tencent-backed live-streaming platform Douyu has been removed from a number of Chinese smartphone app stores. The Wuhan-based answer to Twitch was not available on Apple’s China app store on Wednesday and a search of Xiaomi and Huawei smartphone stores only showed a basic version with limited functionality.
Douyu did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter. The removal from app stores would prevent new users from downloading the app but not affect existing users.
The app’s removal follows a crackdown by Beijing on content it deems inappropriate – which includes “pornography” and “illegal” online content, according to a Xinhua report in August. Users of live-streaming sites in China now need to register under real names, while platforms should set up a black list of offending broadcasters, and improve vetting mechanisms to guard against illegal or harmful content, Xinhua said, citing an industry notice.
The moves comes as Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, announced it would be stopping any new users registering for its services under 14 years’ old.
In April, four news apps, including Jinri Toutiao and ifeng News, were removed from app stores for two weeks amid a move by authorities to “clean up” the broadcasting environment. In July, Nasdaq-listed video sharing site Bilibili was pulled for a month after being criticised by state-owned television for inappropriate content. China has now has shut down more than 13,000 websites in the last three years.
Douyu banned one of its hosts Chen Yifaer in August over comments about the Nanking massacre, a mass murder committed by Japanese troops in 1938, and vowed to have all hosts attend regular patriotic education sessions.
Founded in 2014, Douyu has grown into a unicorn – a term for start-ups that have a valuation over US$1 billion – and was valued at over US$2.4 billion in its latest round of fundraising in March, when Tencent invested US$630 million.
The company is mulling an initial public offering that could raise up to US$700 million, the South China Morning Post reported earlier.
By most accounts, China is home to the biggest active user base of live streaming, with industry revenue expected to grow from last year’s US$5.5 billion to US$16.5 billion by 2022, according to figures included in a filing by Huya, another Chinese live-streaming game platform listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
China also has the world’s largest games market in terms of revenue and gamers, according to consultancy Frost & Sullivan Research. The country had 646 million gamers as of last year and this is expected to grow to 917 million by 2022.