Chinese basketball fans tune into Tencent live-streams

Business | 23 Oct 2019 2:49 pm

China’s state broadcaster, CCTV, is sticking to its pledge to drop National Basketball Association coverage two weeks after a league official’s twitter post roiled its business in the mainland, Bloomberg reports.

The sports channel CCTV-5 -- which averaged 25 million viewers per game during previous NBA finals -- has no plans to air the opening games, the first time it has not covered regular season games in at least a decade.

There are no NBA games scheduled for broadcast on CCTV this week, according to its website, although there will be more than 30 games played in the U.S. between teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers as the season kicks off.

But in a sign of the enduring interest from Chinese fans -- 500 million of whom watched one or more games last year -- Tencent Holdings live-streamed games from today. Tencent had announced its boycott of pre-season games as well at the height of the controversy earlier this month, but resumed live-streaming of games beginning October 14.

The NBA was plunged into turmoil earlier this month after the Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, posted a tweet in support of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong. He soon deleted the message, but China took umbrage and the NBA’s sponsors in the country cut ties with the league. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver further inflamed tensions at the time by supporting Morey’s right to free speech, telling reporters that the league wouldn’t police what people can say.

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