If you live in China and haven't finished watching every season of The Big Bang Theory, you're in trouble.
Without warning, the show vanished over the weekend from the popular streaming website Sohu.com. It wasn't the only one; NCIS, The Good Wife, and The Practice also disappeared. It definitely wasn't due to lack of popularity, as The Big Bang Theory has been streamed 1.4 billion times as of this month.
Analysts believe that China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television had something to do with the abrupt pulling of the programs, the Los Angeles Times reports. In March, the TV regulator released a notice stating that people need to be more vigilant in monitoring programs online that might have questionable "erotic, political, or violent" content. It's odd, however, considering American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and Masters of Sex remain online.
China is the No. 1 international box office, with $3.6 billion in ticket sales annually. The television market is quickly growing, too, and the studios believe that by streaming their shows online, piracy will become less of an issue. Having a new revenue stream is a nice added benefit. However, "if there are more restrictions on screening such shows or delaying the shows from being 'live streamed' just after they air in the U.S., the Chinese video websites will lose a lot of viewers," Su Jie, an online video market analyst with Analysts International, tells the Los Angeles Times. The sites will "be hurt financially after losing this high-end audience that has a lot of spending power."
There is no word on when — or if — the The Big Bang Theory will come back to Sohu.com, but reports in China suggest that CCTV, the state-run broadcaster, would like the rights.