- “Game of Thrones” fans in China were left reeling after Tencent Video, the country’s official streamer of HBO content, axed its simulcast of the show’s series finale.
- Tencent Video officially attributed the broadcast problems to “media transfer issues,” according to Reuters.
- But an HBO spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that it was due to tensions brought on by the US-China trade war.
- Washington and Beijing have amped up their trade battle recently, with both sides imposing new tariffs on each other and President Donald Trump designating Chinese tech giant Huawei a national-security threat.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
China axed its live broadcast of the long-awaited series finale of “Game of Thrones” Sunday night, with HBO reportedly blaming tensions between the US and China over their ongoing trade war.
Tencent Video, the Chinese live-streaming platform which has exclusive rights to air HBO content in the country, announced one hour before the scheduled broadcast that it would delay the show’s airing.
According to Reuters, the site said in a post on microblogging site Weibo: “Dear users, we regret to inform you that the sixth episode of the eighth season of Game of Thrones will not go online at the intended time due to media transfer issues. We will keep you informed of the broadcast time.”
While Tencent offered no more comment beyond its statement, an HBO representative told The Wall Street Journal that HBO had no trouble with the show’s transmission, and that the cancellation was due to the ongoing trade dispute between China and the US.
Business Insider has contacted Tencent and HBO for comment.
The US and China have been embroiled in a yearlong trade war, with both sides upping the ante by imposing new tariffs on each other’s products over the past two weeks. Tariffs now apply on more than $200 billion of Chinese goods sent to the US, and $110 billion of US exports to China.
President Donald Trump’s administration last week declared Chinese telecom giant Huawei a threat to national security and banned it from working with US firms. The move could severely dent the company’s business, as the US is home to one in four of Huawei’s suppliers. He has since rowed back on that ban, but the threat remains.
“Game of Thrones” is also heavily censored in China, whose social-media platforms screen and erase content that the government might consider politically sensitive or obscene.
The video-streaming site of the Chinese tech giant Tencent cut out six minutes’ worth of sex and battle scenes from the first episode of the latest season, leaving fans confused and frustrated.
The country’s social-media platforms have also been cracking down extra hard on content over the past few weeks in the run-up to the thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Incident, in which Chinese soldiers fired on and killed hundreds of pro-democracy protesters.
Chinese President Xi Jinping recently revealed himself as a “Game of Thrones” fan at a recent meeting with foreign visitors in Beijing, in which he said according to the South China Morning Post: “We must all make sure the world we live in does not descend into the chaotic warring seven kingdoms of Westeros.”
‘I specially took a vacation today’
Tencent Video subscribers — who pay 198 yuan ($28.67) a year to stream shows — were furious to be left out of the “Game of Thrones” finale, and threatened to cancel their accounts.
One aggrieved fan wrote on Weibo, as cited by Reuters: “All those paying members and their trust, and this is how you repay them.”
Another fan said he specially took a day off from work to watch the finale, the Journal reported. “I specially took a vacation today!” he said, as cited by the newspaper.
Because China Standard Time is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time, the HBO show’s simulcast would air at 9 a.m. in China.
It appears that some “Game of Thrones” fans in China still managed to watch the finale through other means, though. Business Insider has seen fan memes and videos responding to the last episode on Weibo.