Amid Trade Tensions, Game of Thrones Finale Blocked in China

HBO isn't the only US company that may face tariff-inspired hiccups

Access to Sunday's finale may have been restricted. - Credit by HBO
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

Higher prices from retailers like Walmart and Macy’s are a fairly predictable outcome of the U.S.-China trade war. The ability of Chinese fans to tune in to the Game of Thrones finale is arguably less so.

And yet that’s precisely what happened on Sunday—at least according to the Wall Street Journal.

While 19.3 million U.S. consumers were able to watch the series finale on Sunday, the Journal says fans in China were thwarted by transmission problems on HBO’s streaming partner, Tencent Video.

A rep for HBO told Adweek, “There was no issue with the delivery of the episode.”

However, while a promo for the finale is streaming as of May 21 with pre-roll ads for quick-service restaurants KFC and Pizza Hut, an automatically translated update on the series’ Tencent Video page says, “We are sorry dielectric problems due to current on the line is not on track.” And on the preview itself, there’s a message that reads, “I am very sorry that due to the media transmission problem, episode 6 cannot be online as scheduled.”

The Journal cited an HBO spokesman who said China put the kibosh the series finale as a result of its ongoing trade skirmish with the U.S. However, Tencent did not respond, so it wasn’t immediately clear who—or what—was the culprit.

HBO isn’t the only U.S. company that may face tariff-inspired hiccups.

A story in The Atlantic noted future U.S. targets of state intervention like boycotts, smear campaigns and investigations could include Apple and Coca-Cola—as well as General Motors, which manufactures and sells millions of cars in China each year, and Starbucks, which has 3,600 locations in China (and is already facing increased competition from homegrown Luckin Coffee, a 2-year-old cashierless chain that already has 2,400 locations across China).


@lisalacy lisa.lacy@adweek.com Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.
Publish date: May 21, 2019 https://dev.adweek.com/retail/amid-trade-tensions-game-of-thrones-finale-blocked-in-china/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT