NBA games return to China’s state broadcaster after 17 months’ absence
Published: Mar 30, 2022 08:30 PM


At 10:30 am Wednesday, an NBA regular season game between Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz was on live broadcast of the sports channel of China Central Television (CCTV), marking the return of NBA games to China's state broadcaster after 17 months' absence. 

Industry insiders confirmed to the Global Times that it is going to be a full return, instead of a temporary one. 

Li Shuangfu, former NBA reporter and founder of a sports media, told the Global Times that CCTV plans to bring back NBA live broadcast as a whole, which he has confirmed through authoritative sources. 

"But the number of games broadcast will not be as many as before, and no more outside guest commentators will be invited," he said. 

Ever since the then-Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey reposted a message in October 2019 to express solidarity with the rioters involved in the yearlong social turmoil in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and immediately drew a backlash from Chinese NBA fans, the NBA games have been absent from TV broadcasters in the Chinese mainland. 

In October 2020, CCTV-5, the state broadcaster's sports channel, broadcast the last game of the 2019/20 NBA Finals. The broadcast stimulated speculations that it might lead to a full return of NBA games on CCTV. However, the NBA games have remained absent on CCTV since then. In March 2021, media reported that CCTV had decided to bring back NBA games and had finished related paperwork, which did not happen either. 

Earlier on Tuesday, basketball fans in China were surprised to find a listing of an NBA regular season game on CCTV-5's program list for Wednesday. The Clippers-Jazz game was later temporarily pulled from the program list, but ended up being broadcast live on air. 

What is worth noticing is that the re-broadcast came just two days after Clippers' head coach Tyronn Lue fired at Morey over his tweet in 2019 on Hong Kong affairs.

"Should he [Morey] really be tweeting anything right now? Last time he tweeted, he cost the NBA a billion dollars," Lue said on Monday responding to Morey tweeting about their brawl about free throws. 

Currently, the official broadcasters of the 2021/22 NBA regular season in the Chinese mainland are Tencent Sports and MIGU Video, both of which broadcast online. There are no TV broadcasts except for CCTV.

The two online broadcasters, Tencent Sports and MIGU Video, have not broadcast any games of Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, as Morey is now the general manager of Philadelphia 76ers, while the Boston Celtics have Enes Kanter Freedom, who openly supported Xizang's secession, in their initial season lineup.