HBO, Chinese Online Giant Tencent Strike Exclusive Deal

Game of Thrones Finale Arya Hound - H 2014
Helen Sloan/HBO

Tencent will become the Chinese home of 'Game of Thrones,' 'True Detective' and other HBO series and films, but regulators must approve them

Time Warner's HBO and Chinese Internet giant Tencent on Tuesday unveiled a content deal that will make the latter's streaming video service the official online home of HBO films and series in the country.

Under the deal, Tencent Video will be the exclusive Chinese online provider of HBO series including Game of Thrones, True Detective, The Newsroom and Boardwalk Empire. The firm will also show HBO films. Financial details were not disclosed.

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Chinese online video players, such as Tencent, Youku Tudou (backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, which has also struck content deals), Baidu's iQiyi and, have spent more on international content. But  Reuters highlighted that Chinese regulators will have to approve HBO content before they are shown on Tencent.

Without detailing timing expectations, Reuters said the firm vowed to start offering the HBO content in the "very near future." But it added that the shows and films are all subject to approval from China's regulators and may need to be censored.

Among other moves, the country's regulators have ordered TV shows to be taken down and limited how much foreign content can be shown on video sites. Earlier this year, China's state broadcaster CCTV aired a censored version of Game of Thrones. In May, regulators in China ordered streaming services to take down such popular U.S. shows as The Big Bang Theory and NCIS.

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"This partnership with Tencent Video ensures that Chinese fans will now be able to enjoy our dramas at the high level of quality they were meant to be experienced,” said Charles Schreger, HBO’s president of programming sales.

The deal will give HBO an official online home in China. Many of its shows are available on piracy video sites in the country.

"This partnership enables us to distribute some of the most groundbreaking programming in the world through our robust technology platform, to the benefit of Chinese Internet users," said Tencent president Martin Lau.

Twitter: @georgszalai