Following a year-long ban on broadcasts of NBA games, CCTV – the major state-owned media network in China – will air Game 5 of the NBA Finals, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst writes.
CCTV has aired NBA games since the early 1990s, per Windhorst, but pulled them from their scheduled for the 2019/20 season following Daryl Morey‘s tweet in support of Hong Kong protestors last fall.
For most of the year, CCTV’s stance was that it wouldn’t resume showing NBA games as long as Morey remained unpunished for his tweet. However, the network’s statement today stated that the NBA’s role in fighting COVID-19 in China played a part in the decision to resume live broadcasts. According to Windhorst, the league donated over $1MM and medical equipment to China earlier this year.
If the CCTV’s resumption of NBA broadcasts is a permanent decision rather than a temporary one, it would be good news for the league, which lost a significant source of revenue when the network – along with Chinese streaming giant Tencent – stopped airing games last fall. Tencent resumed its broadcasts shortly after the initial boycott, but the company’s relationship with the NBA has remained tenuous throughout the last year.
Estimates have indicated that the NBA faced at least $200-300MM in revenue losses due to the impact the Morey tweet and the subsequent controversy had on its relationship with Chinese partners. With the league also facing significant losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, improving relations with China has been a priority for commissioner Adam Silver for much of 2020, Windhorst writes.