A recent crackdown on file-sharing sites in China mean that fans of American TV shows — including the addictive likes of The Walking Dead and House of Cards — may soon be unable to get their fix.
CNN reports that late last month, "many found their entertainment lifeline cut off as authorities shut down two of the country's most popular file-sharing sites. State media called the sites known copyright infringers. The sites themselves claimed to be free platforms for people who want to learn about American language and culture."
Very few current US shows air on Chinese TV, and while China does have legal streaming sites like Sohu (which brought House of Cards into the country at the same time it aired on Netflix stateside, yielding 103 million views to date), it's feared that these sites will become the next targets for censors.
China's broadcast regulator has strongly hinted from April 2015 it would only approve "healthy" content to be streamed online — a troubling prospect for followers of such shows as zombie horror drama The Walking Dead and steamy period drama Masters of Sex.
What's more, online broadcasters may have to wait for a show's entire season to air in the US before streaming it in China. Hardcore followers say they dread the prospect of having to wait to watch chopped versions of their beloved shows on streaming sites.
The article's quotes from I-Am-A-TV-Junkie types in China, which mention the 21st-century practice of stockpiling shows to be viewed in a single chunk of time, suggest that binge-watching is the new universal language.
"If they totally shut the door to American TV, it would be tragic," said Wu Yeni, [a] corporate publicist who equates her desire for US shows to that for caffeine. "It would be just tragic if you couldn't even choose your own entertainment."
Top photo via AMC.