Tencent Video delays 'Game of Thrones' finale in China, prompts fan uproar
SHANGHAI, May 20 (Reuters) - China's Tencent Video has delayed the broadcast of the "Game of Thrones" finale, according to an official message published by the online streaming site on Monday, prompting uproar among fans of the popular TV series in the country.
Tencent Video, which owns the online broadcast rights in China for the long-running smash series from HBO, was originally scheduled to air the episode at 9 am Beijing time, or 0100 GMT.
But an hour before the scheduled broadcast, one of Tencent Video's official accounts on Weibo, a Chinese social media site, announced that the airing would be postponed.
"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," the notice reads. "We will keep you informed of the broadcast time."
Several viewers expressed anger online at Tencent Video, with many demanding refunds for their membership, as the final episode was aired around the world, bringing the curtains down on the series that has run for eight seasons.
"All those paying members and their trust, and this is how you repay them," a viewer wrote on Weibo after the broadcast was postponed. It charges 15 yuan per month or 198 yuan ($28.66) a year for access to some exclusive shows like Game of Thrones.
Others were skeptical about the reason for the delay, with some suggesting that political tensions were to blame.
"Is it the result of the trade war between the U.S. and China?" wrote another Weibo user in a top-ranked comment.
Tencent Holdings 0700.HK did not respond to a request for comment on the broadcast delay by its video platform.
In late 2014, Tencent signed a deal with HBO to broadcast some of the TV station's content exclusively in China.
But the Chinese internet giant has heavily censored some Game of Thrones episodes, removing scenes featuring sex and excessive gore, in line with Beijing's broader push to clean up content seen as vulgar or not in line with its socialist values.
Despite the cuts, the series has entered China's cultural zeitgeist much as it has elsewhere in the world.
The first episode of its eighth and final season racked up over 20 million online views in its first day in China, shows data from Maoyan, a Tencent-backed online ticketing website.
In April, Chinese premier Li Keqiang referenced the Emmy-winning medieval fantasy series at a diplomatic meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia, where some of its scenes have been shot.
($1 = 6.9074 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Josh Horwitz and Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
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