The National Basketball Association is the latest U.S. commercial entity to fall afoul of China’s geopolitical sensibilities, which could have repercussions for its crown-jewel digital partnership in China.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has halted broadcasts of the NBA’s pre-season games after the general manager of the Houston Rockets sent a tweet last week in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, Bloomberg News reported. The NBA later apologized for the tweet but faced criticism in the U.S. for capitulating to the Chinese government.
The apology, meanwhile, hasn’t quelled backlash in China, which could jeopardize the NBA’s recent online-streaming deal with Chinese internet giant Tencent. The NBA announced in July it renewed a five-year deal with Tencent to stream live games and other programming to Chinese fans. The deal was reportedly worth $1.5 billion, triple the $500 million that Tencent signed with the NBA through the 2019-2020 season.