CCTV set to end NBA blackout from March
CCTV, the Chinese state broadcaster, is set to resume its coverage of North American basketball’s NBA from next month, it has been reported.
The broadcaster will show the upcoming All-Star game on 8 March (7 March in USA) and is expected to air the remainder of the regular season and the season-ending playoffs, according to Chinese news outlet the Global Times.
Despite being the NBA’s exclusive television partner in the country, CCTV has not shown a regular season game for over a year following a dispute with the league which stemmed from a tweet sent out by Daryl Morey in support of anti-government protests in Hong-Kong, a special administrative region of China, in 2019.
Morey posted the tweet while he was the general manager of the Houston Rockets which led to CCTV suspending its NBA coverage after the league refused to grant a request to fire him, which put the league’s business in China at risk.
Following a year-long hiatus, the broadcaster showed Game 5 and Game 6 of the NBA Finals last October when the Los Angeles Lakers clinched the 2019-20 championship by beating the Miami Heat.
However, CCTV resumed its blackout from the start of this season and has not shown any games from the opening two months of the campaign.
That is expected to change in the coming weeks and bring an end to a near 18-month saga.
The NBA’s long-term digital partner Tencent, which initially followed CCTV in suspending its coverage of the league at the start of last season, did resume broadcasts, with the exception of Rockets games.
This year, the platform has resumed its coverage of Rockets games but pulled matches involving the Philadelphia 76ers after Morey took over as their president of basketball operations last summer.
Instead of streaming 76ers games, Tencent is only providing text updates as the country is still reeling from Morey’s tweet.
The platform is the NBA’s exclusive digital partner in China in an agreement until 2025 believed to be worth around $1.5 billion.
The financial impact of Morey’s actions was laid bare recently as the NBA revealed a $200 million "net negative impact" in revenues from its business in China.
The NBA’s hopes of repairing its relationship with CCTV was somewhat boosted after appointing Michael Ma to lead its China business last May, returning to the league after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus.
His father Ma Guoli was one of the founders of CCTV and is believed to have been instrumental in the state broadcaster acquiring rights to NBA games in China in the 1990s.