CCTV, the major state-owned media network in China, has no plans to resume airing NBA games once the league is able to resume play, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst writes. The network stopped broadcasting NBA content last fall following Daryl Morey‘s tweet in support of Hong Kong protestors.
As Windhorst outlines, the NBA named Michael Ma its new CEO of NBA China this week, and there were signs that the league hoped the appointment would help thaw its relationships with Chinese partners. His father Ma Guoli is regarded as “the father of CCTV Sports,” having run it for the last 16 years, according to Windhorst.
However, the Chinese network is apparently still unwilling to extend an olive branch to the NBA, issuing a statement to the Global Times “reiterating its consistent stance on national sovereignty,” per Windhorst. CCTV’s stance has been that it won’t resume showing NBA games as long as Morey remains unpunished for his tweet.
While the COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately be more damaging to the NBA’s finances this season, the ongoing tension with China is also costing the league a significant amount of money. As Windhorst writes, commissioner Adam Silver estimated in February that the NBA had lost more than $300MM as a result of the controversy. If those revenue streams are lost permanently going forward, they’d have at least a modest impact on the growth of the league’s salary cap.
Unlike CCTV, Chinese streaming giant Tencent resumed broadcasting NBA games last October, just a few weeks after the Morey incident. However, as detailed by J. Brady McCollough and Tommy Yang in The Los Angeles Times in February, the relationship between the NBA and Tencent remains tenuous as well, with the service having lost advertisers and having reduced the amount of games it shows.
An industry official told The Times that the deal between the NBA and Tencent, a five-year agreement worth a reported $1.5 billion, could be in jeopardy. It’s currently set to run through 2024/25.