The NBA season got underway yesterday (Thursday) without television coverage in China as state broadcaster CCTV maintained its blackout amid a long-running dispute with the basketball league.
CCTV has not shown the NBA since last October after a tweet from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey included an image 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.
The incident has strained relations between the NBA and China, where media rights to the league are held by CCTV and conglomerate Tencent. The latter resumed its coverage prior to the postponement of the NBA following the Covid-19 outbreak.
CCTV did not follow suit and in May the broadcaster moved to deny claims that it would be resuming its coverage. CCTV has now maintained this stance as the delayed NBA season began without television coverage in China, although Tencent did provide streams of games.
It was announced in May that Endeavor China chief executive Michael Ma would return to the NBA to head up the league’s operations in China, in a move that had led to predictions that CCTV could be willing to resume its coverage.
Earlier this month, CCTV switched its coverage of English Premier League football matches to its less popular CCTV5 Plus sports channel in a move analysts linked to diplomatic tensions between China and the UK.