Following its launch in 2011, Game of Thrones became one of the most talked about and loved TV shows in history.
Eight years and dozens of Emmy awards later, episode six of season eight aired last Sunday, bringing the curtain down for the final time.
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While millions were able to soak up this momentous TV occasion, fans in China were left brokenhearted. Tencent Video, the Chinese platform that has held the local distribution rights to the HBO series since 2014, revealed that it would not be broadcasting S08EP06.
Citing a mysterious “media transmission problem”, Thrones fans were told that if they wanted to watch the show, that would have to be at a later date.
Strangely, however, HBO told the Wall Street Journal that there had been no problem delivering content to Tencent, leading to speculation that the show had become yet another casualty of the trade war with the United States.
But even as officials bicker and argue, the flood of content across the Internet continues, seemingly untroubled by the political turmoil. If official channels aren’t able to provide what the public wants, then unofficial swarms of like-minded people will do their jobs for them.
Since the announcement, TorrentFreak has been looking around various popular torrent and eD2K (yes, that’s still a thing) sites in China. We can safely say that obtaining the final episode of Game of Thrones is not a problem.
While the above image suggests availability for uTorrent and BitComet, a pair of torrent clients that are well known in the West, Chinese users are more likely to opt for the popular ‘Thunder’ client.
Owned by Xunlei, Thunder is one of the world’s most popular torrent clients. As shown below, links for all episodes in the series are easy to obtain via ‘thunder’ links, which can be thought of as a magnet link variant.
Of course, if the Chinese are relying on Western video sources to satisfy their S08EP06 needs, many of them will find they meet a language barrier that needs to be overcome. While Tencent offered Chinese subtitles, pirates are also happy to oblige with hand-translated SRT files, to match the Amazon-sourced video.
Finally, in addition to trade war speculation, a piece in Fortune noted that the final episode contained a point about democracy that may not have gone down particularly well with Chinese authorities. This, it’s suggested, may have something to do with the episode failing to air as planned.
Whether that’s the case or not, Game of Thrones episodes are already subject to censorship edits in the region, a point not lost on Chinese pirates who enthuse in site comment sections about whether copies of the show are cut or uncut versions.
Needless to say, due to Tencent’s “media transmission problems”, it’s likely that most if not all pirate copies currently circulating fit into the latter category. There are some things that not even the Chinese government and its Great Firewall can control.