Chinas state broadcaster, CCTV, went against tradition and did not show any NBA games on the opening day of the new season
Chinas state broadcaster, CCTV, went against tradition and did not show any NBA games on the opening day of the new season.
CCTV customarily shows the first game of the NBA season, which started in North America on Tuesday night, the early hours of Wednesday in China. However, the season opener, between the reigning champion Toronto Raptors and the New Orleans Pelicans was blacked out. The Raptors-Pelicans game was also absent from the NBAs streaming partner in China, Tencent, although the broadcaster showed a later game between LeBron Jamess LA Lakers and their cross-city rivals, the Clippers. Tencents deal with the NBA is worth $1.5bn over five years.
The lucrative relationship between the NBA and China has been damaged since the Houston Rockets general manager, Daryl Morey, tweeted in support of anti-government protestors in Hong Kong earlier this month. The incident has threatened the leagues sponsorship and broadcasting deals in China, which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Yahoo Sports estimates that the dispute with China could depress the leagues salary cap and therefore NBA wages by up to 15% next season. The appetite for the NBA in China is huge. Last year, 800 million viewers in China watched the league on TV or via streams, and NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told Forbes that NBA China, which was founded in 2008, was worth $4bn.
Over the weekend the NBAs commissioner, Adam Silver, said Chinese officials had demanded that the Rockets fire Morey. The Chinese government denied the claims and a commentary on CCTV said Silver would face retribution sooner or later for the comments.