This Sunday night is bound to be bittersweet for some New York City-based fans of "Game of Thrones" once 9 p.m. rolls around. No, it's not because their favorite character is getting killed off (though with this show's mortality rate, who knows), but because their favorite viewing party has been shut down.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn video store-turned-bar Videology received a "very polite but official letter" from HBO asking them to put an end to their popular viewing parties, co-owner Wendy Chamberlain told MTV News.
"Sorry guys. No Game of Thrones showing tonight. Or ever. Not our choice. #WinterIsHere" the bar said on its Facebook page, prompting shocked comments from fans.
Videology said that it was willing to comply with HBO's request, recognizing their right to their product (with fire and blood and cease and desist letters), but that they were surprised that their event -- with "Game of Thrones" trivia, Dothraki language lessons and "Game of Thrones"-themed beer on tap before the show started -- had been shut down.
"We had assumed since so many other bars around the neighborhood and the city were showing it on Sunday nights as well, that HBO believed -- as we also believed -- that public showings of 'Game of Thrones' were in the best interest of the show for encouraging fan participation and fan enthusiasm and that sort of thing," Chamberlain said.
"Obviously in the end it's their content and their decision who they will allow to show if and who they will overlook showing it and who they won't overlook showing it. They've asked us to stop showing it. We're happy to comply with that if that's their decision," she said.
When contacted, HBO provided the following statement: "As a pay subscription service, HBO should not be made available in public establishments. When it does happen, it is of particular concern when there is an attempt to profit off the programming. This is nothing new as we have taken such actions for well over a decade."
However, other bars around the city will continue to show new episodes on Sunday nights. Professor Thom's, an East Village bar that hosts weekly costume contests, drink and food specials and more during their watching parties, told MTV News that they haven't heard from the premium channel's higher-ups. They've been holding viewing parties that pack the bar to capacity since midway through the first season, co-owner Peter Levin said, and have twice played host to "Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin during episodes.
"I feel like it's no secret to HBO that we've shown it for the last several years," Levin said. "So I feel like if they were going to say something they would have already."
And it's not just Martin who drinks for free during "Game of Thrones."
"We give away Jello shots, we have plot determined shots that we give away, any time a character dies. We probably give away as much alcohol as we sell," he said.
Both Chamberlain and Levin said that watching the show with the groups in their respective bars was an experience that couldn't be replicated at home.
Chamberlain, who said that she usually binge-watches the seasons when they come out on DVD, said that that even though she can't closely watch while running the bar on Sunday nights, the crowd's reactions got her excited to watch.
"Running the event you can not look at the screen, but it's hard to tune your ears out. I'd hear a lot of stuff like, 'I don't know what I just heard, but I'm going to assume that that wasn't somebody dying, but it sounds like somebody died. I wonder who it was!'" she said. "Having so many excited people in here and having them show up early and just be so excited and to hear the audience reaction and the gasps and the awwws and the laughter and all that stuff, it makes you really excited for the show."
Levin said that he typically watches the episodes are Professor Thom's, where there's a self-policed no-talking rule during the episodes, and then re-watches later at home.
"I would definitely say the most impact [the show has] had on the crowd was the Red Wedding episode," he said of his favorite group viewing experience. "Just the final 10 minutes of that episode people were just shocked. There was a lot of gasping, that was just crazy. People were excited and shocked and when it ended there was like a five second silence just because nobody even knew how to respond.
"But it was pretty awesome to watch in that sort of group atmosphere. Somebody was telling me the other day you could take a video camera and shoot the crowd without showing what's going on on the screen and in a scene like that, you can't tell if they're watching a big sporting event or if they're watching 'Game of Thrones.' The emotion is tremendous."