Tencent will be the exclusive online provider of HBO series
such as "Game of Thrones" - which features gore, nudity, and
incest - "True Detective" and "Boardwalk Empire", China's top
social network and gaming firm, said on Tuesday.
"This partnership enables us to distribute some of the most
ground-breaking programming in the world through our robust
technology platform, to the benefit of Chinese Internet users,"
Martin Lau, president of Tencent, said in a statement.
But even as China's Internet TV firms have pumped more than $1
billion into foreign content in less than two years in a bid to
attract more viewers, government regulators have stepped up
their oversight of the previously freewheeling industry.
This includes ordering TV shows to be taken down, scouring media
of "obscene" or "pornographic" material and imposing limits on
how much foreign content can be shown on any online video site.
This is partly seen as a move to protect the domestic TV and
film industry from outside competition as it develops.
Tencent declined to say how much it spent on HBO's content, nor
did it give a date for release.
The TV series and films are set to be broadcast in the very near
future, said Tencent, as they are still subject to approval from
China's regulators and may need to be censored.
Earlier this year, China's state broadcaster CCTV aired a
chopped version of Game of Thrones which one viewer said
resembled a "medieval castle documentary".
In May, China's authorities ordered streaming services to take
down popular U.S. shows The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, NCIS
and The Practice.
Tencent's competitors include Sohu.com Inc, Youku Tudou Inc,
which is backed by e-commerce titan Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd
and smartphone maker Xiaomi Technology Co Ltd [XTC.UL], and
search giant Baidu Inc's iQiyi, which is also part-owned by
(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
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