China-based fans of “Game of Thrones” missed out on six minutes of violence, prostitutes and coarse language which was cut from the premiere of the show’s final season on Sunday.
Chinese media giant Tencent owns the exclusive rights to the widely loved HBO series inside the country, where it can be watched on the company’s website and app.
HBO itself is not available to the general public there, leaving the censored version on Tencent as the only legal option.
The first episode of season 8 was broadcast around the world Sunday night. The hit fantasy show explores the bloody feuds of noble families as they struggle to gain the Iron Throne in the fictional world of Westeros.
The series is famous for its violence and nudity – but Chinese fans have learned to expect strict censorship.
Without spoiling the plot of the first episode, the moments cut include a sex scene with prostitutes, close-up shots of people being killed with arrows and an ax, and one instance of a character swearing.
A blogger on the movie review website Douban suggested viewers should file a “group lawsuit” against Tencent for the cuts, while others made their anger known on Chinese social media site Weibo.
“I’m not unwilling to pay Tencent for this show, but how can I watch when they cut so many scenes? I’ll have to download the video from the internet eventually,” one user said.
It is unknown whether the censorship was carried out by the Chinese government, Tencent prior to airing or preemptively by HBO itself.
CNN has asked HBO, Tencent and the government for comment. HBO is part of CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia.