• Andrew Collins

The NBA in China: Recent News & Developments

Updated: Jun 10, 2019


The Lunar New Year is the most traditional festival in China and lasts from February 19th to March 3rd. For western brands, it’s a fantastic opportunity to connect with their Chinese fans. On January 27th, NBA China kicked off their Chinese New Year campaign, both on and off the court.

Online Campaigns WeChat Red Envelopes WeChat has adopted the traditional concept of ‘red envelopes’ and adapted it to its social media platform by creating virtual red envelopes. Red envelopes are an important Chinese tradition which involves giving or receiving a monetary gift, while the red colour symbolises good luck. The NBA have offered fans the chance to participate through WeChat accounts to win special NBA prizes via the NBA Chinese New Year virtual “Red Envelopes”.

“Surprise Door” “Surprise Door” will be the First Chinese New Year TV spot which will involve NBA star’s paying surprise visits to the homes of Chinese families to share in the holiday festivities and to watch an NBA game together. The NBA stars involved include the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry the Houston Rockets’ James Harden, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Jeremy Lin, and the Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade.

Offline Campaigns Special Edition CNY Uniforms The Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors will both unveil special Chinese Lunar New Year uniforms. The uniforms will feature Chinese inspired designs, which seek to pay tribute to Chinese fans, the largest international fan base.

Community initiatives NBA Hall of Fame legend, Gary Payton is currently in China where he will be attending numerous basketball clinics and attending a CNY meal with underprivileged students in Nanping. The tour will also involve the NBA donating more than 1,600 basketballs to schools all across China.

Other NBA-China Developments Last Friday, the NBA announced a five-year expansion deal with China’s Tencent Holdings Limited. This incredible partnership will form the NBA’s largest international digital partnership to date. With more than 750 million likes and followers, the NBA is currently the largest professional sports league on social media. Meanwhile, Tencent boasts three of the world’s top five social platforms, including QQ and WeChat.

With more than 750 million likes and followers, the NBA is currently the largest professional sports league on social media.

As part of the deal, Tencent will feature a record number of live NBA games including all preseason, regular season and playoff action. All of the content will be available both online and via mobile devices through Tencent’s official dedicated NBA platforms. One of the largest developments to come from the deal will be the introduction of the ‘NBA League Pass’ in China, which provides live and on-demand content to fans.

China has significant growth potential for the NBA and this five-year deal will only further develop the NBA as the largest professional sports league. It is said that the partnership deal is worth at least US$500 million.

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