MANILA, Philippines – HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones ended yesterday, May 20, but at least one country hasn’t been able to see it legally: China.
The finale is currently unavailable on the only platform where the show is legally available in China, the streaming platform Tencent Video, according to CNN. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Who gets the Iron Throne in the ‘Game of Thrones’ season 8 finale?)
Viewers were reportedly caught unaware, and were shocked that come show time, a message that’s truly heartbreaking for fans greeted them instead of the usual opening and theme song. The Tencent message read that the episode’s screening will be delayed “due to a media transmission problem.”
Game of Thrones first started streaming in China in 2014, the first fully legal means by which the country could watch the show – which, not surprisingly, and possibly due to its general unavailability, had become one of the most pirated TV shows ever. That means for 5 years, the show has been broadcast in China – years of buildup to be spoiled at the very last episode. Beyond Tencent Video, the only other locations where the HBO channel could be seen include international hotel chains and embassy residences.
Viewers became understandably mad about the whole ordeal, taking to China’s version of Twitter, Weibo, to air out. "What's next — cutting off internet connections between China and the US?" wrote one user, a reference to the ongoing trade war between US and China.
In the same CNN article, HBO said that it has “had no issue with content delivery,” and that “You would have to get further clarification from Tencent.” Tencent hasn’t explained the delay nor has it given a new air date.
On the same day of the finale airing and subsequent unavailability in China, Google also added to the US-China tension, pulling the Android license from tech giant Huawei.
China’s banning of shows from other countries when tensions flare up isn’t unprecedented. Around two years ago, it targeted South Korean shows when the country decided to deploy an advanced US missile system.
About a year ago, the HBO website – which doesn't broadcast shows and just shows program details – was blocked in China after American comedian John Oliver made fun of Chinese President Xi Jinpiing in his show. – Rappler.com