A record number of viewers around the world watched the Sunday’s ‘Game of Thrones’ series finale, but the show’s fans in China were not among them due to the nation’s growing trade war with the US and President Donald Trump. Instead of finding out who ended up sitting on the Iron Throne, a message was received from Chinese ‘Thrones’ watchers informing them of’ transmission medium problems.’
The message was posted by Tencent Video, the subsidiary of Tencent Holdings Ltd, which has had exclusive streaming rights to the premium cable network’s content in China since 2014. ‘We will notify you of another broadcasting time,’ Tencent said in a more detailed communique posted on its Weibo social media account one hour before the last episode was supposed to air.
HBO told Monday’s Wall Street Journal that the blackout of China Thrones was not a technical problem on the part of the company. An HBO spokeswoman confirmed that Tencent had blocked the series final transmission. The Verge reports that thousands of Chinese Thrones fans threatened to cancel their tencent accounts if their monthly subscription fees were not reimbursed on Weibo, China’s largest social media company.
The debacle is the latest failure in the Trump administration’s intensifying battle over US trade tariffs on Chinese goods. State-run China Central Television’s (CCTV-6) broadcaster was supposed to air a red carpet gala, a Chinese sci-fi film, and a Chinese comedy film last week, but, according to the Journal, its regular programming was unexpectedly suspended to show anti-US war movies. On social media, the network said that the films reinforce the fact that Chinese people are’ not afraid of strong enemies and can fight bravely.’
The escalating trade dispute does not bother Chinese consumers alone. The Atlantic reports that US consumers are expected to bear the brunt of last week’s Trump administration’s cost of the 25 percent tariff imposed on Chinese goods. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, an open letter signed by 173 firms urged Trump to end the trade dispute, saying the policy would be’ catastrophic for our consumers, our firms, and the entire American economy.’
Marbridge Consulting managing director Mark Natkin told the Journal that blocking pop culture phenomena like ‘Game of Thrones’ is ‘a good way to apply some additional pressure outside of the eye-for-an-eye tariffs framework.’ ‘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,’ Natkin said.