Know Your ‘Thrones’: HBO Hit Serves As Query Fodder at Border Control

Is watching Game of Thrones a new passport through U.S. Customs? Or, put another way, are federal officials providing a new definition for HBO Go?

The question sounds absurd, but The Wire has to wonder, given the blog post last week by Geoffrey King, Internet advocacy coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

King said he was coming back from a conference in Brazil on Internet governance when, on a layover in Miami with a narrow connecting-f light window, he was told U.S. Customs and Border Protection had some questions for him.

In an airport holding room — CNN was on the TV, of course — his “interrogating officer” launched the inquisition: “Do you watch Game of Thrones?” the officer asked.

King said he did not have much time to watch TV, but then added, given that it is a felony to make false statements to a federal officer: “I do watch The Wire.” (And “read it,” we hope.)

The officer laughed, asked King what he did for a living, and the interview was over.

King missed his connecting flight.

King said he never could figure out why he was detained — though the blog’s overall theme was journalists being detained at the border, and he does reporting in his role for CPJ.

P.S.: King has only flown internationally once since the incident. He said that a Transportation Security Administration agent also had a question for him then: Do you watch Game of Thrones? It has led King to wonder “whether the joke has now made its way into a federal database.”

Cue theme from Twilight Zone, or better yet, GOT.

‘Rival Survival’ Gets High and Low Marks And Clever Dialogue

Rival Survival, Discovery Channel’s reality show featuring Republican and Democratic U.S. senators stranded on an island — Eru, in the Marshalls — debuted Oct. 29, drawing a modest 666,000 viewers, per Nielsen.

Teaming up from different sides of the aisle, but together on the same side of the isle, are Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Martin Henrich (D-N.M.). No, neither is naked, nor do they appear particularly afraid.

Stranded with limited resources and surrounded by sharks, the two are nicer to each other than most legislators are amidst Capitol Hill amenities and surrounded by lobbyists.

While the clever phrases on reality shows do not simply fall out of the sky like coconuts hacked from a branch — remember those reality staffers fighting for representation as writers a while back? — our favorite riposte was Flake’s observation after Henrich had downed something fishy and raw: “Republicans are better at killing and Democrats are better at eating.”

The show has not gotten rave reviews. Common Sense Media gave it two stars out of a possible five, while crediting it for sending positive messages about resourcefullness and cross-partisan cooperation.

A Washington Post reviewer was less positive, calling it a “gimmicky and disappointing socio-political experiment.”

But the senators do have some good one-liners, like the one about more legislation being passed if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) emerged after being forced into a similar survival situation together. What if they did not emerge and instead stayed on the island?

More legislation would also get passed.

(Cue drum riff on a couple of coconut shells.)

— John Eggerton

NBC Sports ‘Piles On’ With New Promo Ads Touting ‘Live Extra’

With the number of events and users continuing to rise, NBC Sports is putting some promotional muscle behind its live-streaming platform.

Debuting this past Saturday (Nov. 1) on NBC and NBCSN, a new campaign touts the NBC Sports Live Extra platform and the accessibility it provides to NFL Sunday Night Football, Barclays Premier League soccer, the National Hockey League, the Olympics, golf and Formula 1 racing, among other properties.

Spots focusing on soccer, football and hockey in 30- and 15-second versions were produced in-house and play off a similar conceit. They first focus on game action, then pull back to reveal that the user is watching on a phone or tablet.

In “Traffic Cop,” the subject is watching on his phone as a BPL referee calls for a penalty — while the cab he’s riding in pulls up alongside a police officer blowing his whistle and pointing ahead. The SNF “Tundra” spot starts with a snowy battle between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, before cutting to a weatherman, icicles on his facial hair, somewhere in the frozen north.

The best of the bunch, “Pile On,” trades on Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez scoring against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist to win the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals. While Dad is watching on his tablet on his sofa and a gaggle of girls play on top of him, NBCUowned Sprout’s The Goodnight Show appears on the TV set in the living room.

After kicking off Nov. 1 on NBCSN’s morning coverage of English soccer and on NBC, spots will be integrated across NBCUniversal’s portfolio of networks. NBC Sports Group also secured an off-channel schedule of sports and male-skewing entertainment properties. Officials said the initial flight will play through the end of November.

— Mike Reynolds

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.