NBA season gets underway without CCTV coverage in China

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to pass to Anthony Davis #3 after a screen, as Patrick Patterson #54 and Maurice Harkless #8 of the LA Clippers defend (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

State broadcaster CCTV did not show the opening games of the 2019-20 NBA season amid the ongoing strained relationship between China and the North American basketball league.

The NBA has been facing a backlash from Chinese commercial partners, government, sports officials and fans this month after Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, shared an image on Twitter that read “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong”, in reference to the protests in the city against the role of the Chinese state in local governance.

Last week, Chinese conglomerate Tencent resumed its coverage of the NBA following the furore caused by Morey’s comments by airing two pre-season games, but fixtures involving the Rockets remain off the schedule. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver later revealed that the NBA had suffered “substantial” financial losses in China following the post.

CCTV holds exclusive television rights to the NBA in China but the opening games of the new season took place last night without being covered by the broadcaster. The Reuters news agency notes that CCTV’s sports schedule for the rest of the week does not list any NBA games.

CCTV has not explicitly said it will stop showing NBA games but the broadcaster said earlier this month that it would be reviewing the relationship amid the fallout from Morey’s tweet.