The NBA is a very global product, and it looks like the league is trying to take advantage of its massive following in China.
The league recently announced a new collaboration with Chinese finance technology company Ant Group.
“NBA China and Ant Group today announced a comprehensive strategic collaboration to create original online content and customized consumer experiences for fans on Alipay, the leading digital open platform in China,” Ant Group announced in a press release. “The collaboration marks the first time that fans in China have access to NBA video content on Alipay and makes Alipay the strategic partner of NBA China for digital life.
“Through the collaboration, the two sides will create customized NBA experiences for NBA fans and the huge number of users on Ant Group’s platforms by jointly developing original video content, joint membership, NBA mini-program, joint marketing campaigns, digital collectibles, and social responsibility initiatives to engage fans and communities.
“As part of the collaboration, the two sides will also launch an NBA content matrix on the Alipay app. On February 15, NBA China launched an NBA channel on the Alipay platform, with a range of user-generated content created by NBA China’s network of influencers and Alipay’s authorized content creators, to further connect NBA with business partners and fan communities.”
The relationship between the NBA and China has been fodder for media over the last few years.
The most controversial story yet came when NBA executive Daryl Morey tweeted out support of Hong Kong back in 2019. After that, the relationship between the NBA and China became quite strained.
In fact, China only resumed broadcasting the NBA in 2022.
Of course, this new partnership is a notable chapter in the ongoing story between the NBA and China.
There’s little mystery why the NBA would love to gain an even stronger foothold in the Chinese market. The nation is one of just two in the world with a total population of over 1 billion, and China remains the most populated nation in the world today.
Over 1.4 billion people live in China.
Critics of the NBA doing business with China often point to the questionable governing practices of the country, as well as the ongoing persecution of the Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group located mostly in northwestern China.
Ultimately, the NBA is making decisions that it deems are best for business and the expansion of the league’s brand. As long as Chinese nationals continue to love the NBA, the NBA is surely going to be willing to take its business there.
As always, this will be an important story to monitor moving forward.