Broadcasting Rights, Ticket Sales, Sponsorships: NBA’s Hong Kong Crisis Risks Its Massive China Business

A look at the league's huge ecosystem in China, where it's now at odds with the government and its many fans.


10 Oct, 2019FORTUNE.COM

Broadcasting Rights, Ticket Sales, Sponsorships: NBA’s Hong Kong Crisis Risks Its Massive China Business

The NBA first arrived in China in 1979, eight years after the historic “Ping Pong Diplomacy” tour. The Washington Bullets, now the Wizards, traveled to China to play two exhibition matches—one against China’s national team in Beijing and another against the local Bayi Rockets in Shanghai—winning both. Today, the NBA is reportedly a $5 billion business in China: a value it earns through broadcast deals, merchandise, sponsorship, and ticketing.

However, the NBA’s 40 years of development in China is now at risk of unravelling all over a single tweet sent by Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets. In the now deleted post, Morey echoed a slogan from the ongoing protests in Hong Kong—”Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong”—which was interpreted as being anti-China and therefore prompted an instant and severe backlash from Beijing. ...

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