'Game of Thrones' finale didn't air in China because of trade tensions

'Game of Thrones' finale didn't air in China because of trade tensions
© Courtesy of HBO

The series finale of HBO’s hit show “Game of Thrones” did not air in China Sunday due to an ongoing trade dispute with the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported.

Tencent Video, which has exclusive streaming rights to HBO content in China, reported “transmission medium problems,” telling viewers “we will notify you of another broadcasting time.”

Viewers on Chinese social media demanded refunds on their annual fees of 198 yuan, or about $28.61, and threatened to cancel their accounts and delete the app.


An HBO spokesperson told the Journal that the incident was the result of China restricting Tencent, a division of internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., from airing the series amid the ongoing trade dispute with the U.S. The spokesperson told the paper that there were no issues with transmission on HBO’s end.

“It’s a good way to apply some additional pressure outside of the eye-for-an-eye tariffs framework,” Mark Natkin, managing director at Marbridge Consulting in Beijing, told the Journal. “It sends a message that China can also block market access for intangibles like film and TV content, which it can blame ostensibly on content guideline violations.”

The no-show finale is the latest instance of the U.S.-China trade war spilling into pop culture, according to the newspaper.

Last week, Chinese movie broadcaster China Central Television preempted scheduled programming of a red carpet premiere and science fiction and comedy films in favor of war films depicting Chinese and Korean forces prevailing over the U.S. An anti-U.S. trade war song, meanwhile, is going viral in China, getting more than 100,000 views on China’s largest social media server WeChat.

The dispute escalated earlier this month after China walked away from trade negotiations, reneging on a deal with the U.S. over intellectual property issues.

After talks collapsed, the Trump administration hiked tariffs on $200 billion of imports from 10 percent to 25 percent. China retaliated by targeting $60 billion worth of U.S. agricultural exports.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' GOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order MORE threatened another round of tariffs on Chinese goods, insisting the U.S. is in a “fantastic position” in the ongoing trade war.