The National Basketball Association (NBA) is exploring the possibility of scheduling games in the early morning to hit primetime TV audiences in China.
It is estimated that over 300 million people play basketball in China and the NBA enjoys huge popularity in the country thanks to local stars such as Yao Ming and a strategic brand-building operation that has taken place over the past 30 years.
Michael Wandell, NBA China's vice-president of marketing partnerships, said that in a similar way to how the English Premier League and Spanish football's Liga have scheduled kick-off times earlier in the day to suit Asian TV audiences, the NBA is looking at scheduling early morning games in the United States.
"Currently we are broadcasting five live games a week on [Chinese state broadcaster] CCTV, but that's not to say we haven't thought about, explored and entertained the idea of a 'reverse game' that would take place in morning time in the United States and broadcast here in China in primetime or late primetime," he said. "That's something we are looking at and exploring, the model just has to make sense."
Wandell was speaking at SPORTELAsia in Shanghai at a panel session called 'Building a Brand in Asia', hosted in association with TV Sports Markets. The session was moderated by TV Sports Markets editor Frank Dunne and also featured Jörg Daubitzer (Managing Director of DFL Sports Enterprises) and Shingo Shibuya (Head of International Rights Sales for Dentsu).