It appears from the movie (never read the book) that the Hunger Games are shown "live". That there is no delay in the broadcast. It appears to be shown live as the audience is shown watching scenes that the Gamemakers and the Capitol would never want them to see. For example, after Rue is killed, Katniss throws up the sign for "respect" which causes the uprising of district 11. Why show that scene at all in a taped or delayed broadcast?

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    The riots did not take place in the book at that time. The producers did not want to make the other movies until after they were sure it was going to make money (there have been many YA S/F book to movie flops). As a result, they did not know if there would be another chance to portray the gravity of those actions to the audience. Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 17:56
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    We have live news, live sports, live Super Bowl half-time, etc. It would be a lot easier on everybody (videographers, commercials, tech crews, players, entertainers, announcers) if live TV didn't exist. But people like it. It gets them involved, which is the point. And so we have it. The capital could pretend it were live, but that secret would have to be known by a non-trivial number of people, and would be be hard to keep. Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 20:05
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    @PaulDraper Actually, post-Janet Jackson, we don't actually have truly live TV in many cases; they often show it on a short (5-10 second) delay to allow the producers or their censors to bleep profanities or stop the feed in the case of something they don't want to show. That certainly seems reasonable from a realism perspective here.
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 21:50
  • @Joe, that is true. Nowaday, 5-10 seconds is common. If you're on top of things, it's enough to fix it if something really bad happens, albeit in a very abrupt and conspicuous way. It's a good idea. On the other hand, the Hunger Games could have been "pre-Janet" -- they hadn't had a wardrobe malfunction (yet). Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 21:57

5 Answers 5


In the book at least, it appears the Capitol can and does cut out scenes they don't want shown:

The Hunger Games (Book 1), Part II "The Games", Ch. 18:

Slowly, one stem at a time, I decorate her body in the flowers. Covering the ugly wound. Wreathing her face. Weaving her hair with bright colors.

They’ll have to show it. Or, even if they choose to turn the cameras elsewhere at this moment, they’ll have to bring them back when they collect the bodies and everyone will see her then and know I did it. I step back and take a last look at Rue. She could really be asleep in that meadow after all.

“Bye, Rue,” I whisper. I press the three middle fingers of my left hand against my lips and hold them out in her direction. Then I walk away without looking back.

The Hunger Games (Book 1), Part III "The Victor", Ch. 27:

They play her death in full, the spearing, my failed rescue attempt, my arrow through the boy from District 1’s throat, Rue drawing her last breath in my arms. And the song. I get to sing every note of the song. Something inside me shuts down and I’m too numb to feel anything. It’s like watching complete strangers in another Hunger Games. But I do notice they omit the part where I covered her in flowers.

Right. Because even that smacks of rebellion.

The capitol didn't show the act of Katniss covering Rue's body with flowers or her salute. But the floral burial must have been shown when the bodies were picked up. It's not covered in the book, but while the actions of the tributes are monitored and edited for possible seditious acts, the recovery of bodies might be watched less carefully.

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    But the floral burial must have been shown when the bodies were picked up - I wonder why Katniss thinks that? It seems like it would be easy enough to remove the flowers, then start the cameras and pick up the body. I don't recall much about the actual body pickups really getting covered much in the books.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 0:51
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    @Zoredache, the bodies are picked up remotely by tractor beam, so there wouldn't be anybody available to remove the flowers.
    – Martha
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 4:26
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    Good answer. The main issue with filtering out shots or events is that they leave a hole, and that gets people wondering what was cut out. Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 4:37

Per the Hunger Games wikia, gambling is one of the primary reasons for the popularity of the show. This includes "in-play betting" such as on the outcome of individual encounters.

Introducing a broadcast delay would allow unfair opportunities for those with insider knowledge.

The Hunger Games is a major source of gambling and produce intense betting, both in the Capitol and the districts. Katniss mentions people from District 12 betting on the two tributes reaped, and that "odds are given on their ages, whether they're Seam or merchant, and if they will break down and weep." In the Capitol, betting takes place throughout the Games, starting before training and increasing in intensity until a victor is determined.

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    Even most "live" TV or Radio is aired with a delay of just a few seconds so that censors can block or "dump" a portion before it hits the air. A broadcast delay of 5 seconds wouldn't be enough to tip gambling odds any significant amount.
    – phantom42
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 17:22
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    @phantom42 - I don't disagree with that. Note that the superbowl is broadcast instantly (to prevent the "delayed-wire" effect on online gambling) whereas the half time show now has a 30-second delay or longer.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 17:31
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    I can see why there wouldn't be a delay for viewers from the Capitol, but why not delay and edit for the Districts? The Districts (especially the poorer ones) would have no way of knowing, and considering the Capitol has forced them to provide tributes I don't see why the Capitol would care if gambling was unfair for the Districts.
    – Null
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 18:40
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    we also know that even in live broadcasts that have the 5second or 30 second delay, they still miss cutting portions/editing language. while you dont see it, id put money that the hunger games have multiple channels. so you can choose who u watch, OR watch the main channel that shows the highlights/major events.
    – Himarm
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 20:36
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    The delay is long enough to censor but it may be of note that it is not an exact silence. A recent example is the Monty Python Live that just showed a few weeks back, had jumping camera angles and very abrupt beeps, and even let "fuck" through: Would make it quite dangerous if the Capitol were to try and censor certain things while showing live. Just a note here if it helps anyone :)
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 21:20

The "Hunger Games" are shown live because, like @Richard said, there is gambling involved (not going to go further this road).

But there is also the sponsors. If it wouldn't be shown live, then how would the sonsors have any impact in the games?

For example, in the 1st hunger games Katniss is sent a cream to help heal her fire wounds, and in the second she is sent a sort of tap take enables her to get water. If they were not shown live, then these gifts, that from what the books say cost a lot of money, wouldn't come in time.

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    I agree with the sentiment, but surely a thirty-second delay wouldn't make that much of a different, would it?
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 16:41
  • I would say no, it wouldn't make a strong impact. However in the books it also says that every gift is more expensive with the more time it passes. Now, I'm sure the prices are not incremented by the second (don't remember reading about this). But the whole gifting in the movie (in the books the action is all focused on Katniss) is taken care by Haymitch, so I can argue that 30 seconds can make a differece to him, but it's just an opinion. My main point is, they are shown live due to the gambling aspect, like you refered, and the possibility to outsidders to intervene in the outcome.
    – Comum
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 16:51

The reason the poor districts were rioting was because they were oppressed and hungry. Cutting scenes from a show will not make them less oppressed or less hungry.

Censors assume they can control the thoughts of the audience. There is no sure way to control the way your audience thinks.

For me, all of Katniss' choices are a slap in the face of the capitol and its policies

choosing to ally herself with a weak contestant (Rue)

choosing to help the weak

choosing to protect and take care of the young

choosing to share her food even tho she was also hungry

The only probable way to censor her is to not show her at all, and even if they don't show her I doubt it will make the poor districts less hungry or less oppressed.

  • Welcome to SFF.SE. You make good points but this doesn't really answer the question, which is why the Hunger Games were shown live rather than edited and shown to the Districts with a delay (or not at all).
    – Null
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 15:56

from book 1

Taking the kids from our districts forcing them to kill one another while we watch- this is the Capitol's way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion.

Whatever words they use, the real message is clear. "Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there's nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen."


  • Please consider deleting two of your (three, so far) answers and collating all the 'answer' material you feel is relevant into the single remaining answer. (To edit an existing answer, click the 'edit' link beneath the text; to delete answers simply click on 'delete'.) To respond to comments, you can leave a comment (on your own questions/answers) and then the use of the @username syntax will notify the appropriate user (if that user has commented on, or edited, your question/answer). Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 14:15

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