Why Samsung killed off the Twitch.TV app for its latest Smart TVs

There was a Twitch app. There isn't anymore. Here's what happened to it.

The Twitch community showed up in force for this year's PAX Australia.

The Twitch community showed up in force for this year's PAX Australia.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

If you’re looking for a Twitch app on the app store for Samsung’s latest QLED TVs, I have some bad news: it’s no longer available on the app store. 

Actually, scratch that. It never was. 

The world's biggest game streaming platform hasn’t officially had an app for the Samsung ecosystem since 2015.

If you’re keen to stream esports tournaments like the Overwatch League or tune into your favorite Twitch streamer, you can still do so using workarounds like Google Cast. But if you've bought or used a Samsung TV in recent years, you might remember that Twitch.TV app that used to be available for download on the Samsung app store.

As mentioned, it’s no longer available. But the real scoop here is that it was never “officially” sanctioned by Twitch at all. It was developed by an unknown third-party.

And, from what we can tell, it seems like the app just kinda sat on Samsung’s digital storefront racking up downloads for a couple of years (probably or at least partially due to people thinking it looked official enough).

In retrospect, the Russia-based support email probably should have given it away. 

This unofficial Twitch.TV app was taken down in April 2019, and if you had the app downloaded, it was also remotely and forcibly removed from your smart TV.

At the time the app was taken down, Samsung’s customer service reps responded to confused customers over Twitter by telling them that “the Twitch app has been retired. It is no longer available for Samsung Smart TVs.”

And if you never knew that there ever was an unofficial Twitch app available for Samsung TVs, you’d struggle to find any trace of it now. Aside from a few Reddit threads from earlier this year, it’s basically been erased from the internet.

This latest example of platform-holders exercising a higher level of control over their products and customer experiences might be perturbing but it’s hardly unique. Who could forget that time that Amazon erased copies of George Orwell’s 1984 from Kindle devices

It might be true that our modern smartphones and tablets allow us to carry a digitized library of Alexandria around with us at all times. But we should not forget that we also inhabit a world of sleeping giants who can at any moment rewrite the rules of that arrangement at a whim.

All we really know if that somebody saw that Samsung’s Smart TV lacked a proper Twitch app and went out of their way to fill that gap when the company themselves wouldn’t (and still haven’t). Then, somebody at Amazon, Twitch or Samsung decided the customers would be better off without any form of Twitch app than an unofficial one

Speaking to PC World, Samsung Electronics explained why the Twitch.TV app was taken down.

"On Samsung Smart TVs, developers can create and submit apps using an SDK (Software Development Kit)."

"In the case of the Twitch app, Twitch had previously opened its API to allow third party developers to create apps, however this API is no longer available due to policy changes made by Twitch earlier this year. "

It’s easy to recklessly speculate that this unofficial Twitch app might have been sneakily harvesting data from users or that Amazon pressured Samsung into crushing the third-party app in a brazen display of corporate dominance.

However, reality is sometimes as simple as an API change. 

PC World has reached out to Amazon and the Russian-based support email attached to the now-defunct Twitch app for Samsung TVs for comment. 

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Tags samsungTwitchTwitch.TVSamsung Smart TVs

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Fergus Halliday
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