By Barry Janoff
October 18, 2013: The NBA, which has been big on growth in China for nearly three decades, this week unveiled new moves intended to enhance and expand that growth for upcoming decades.
Earlier this week, NBA China and former player Yao Ming shared details about the first NBA Yao School, located in Beijing, which will beginning in February 2014 offer after-school basketball training and fitness programs for kids up to the age of 16.
On the heels of that, NBA China said it has expanded in alliance with Internet media company SINA Corp. to provide fans in China with "unprecedented access to NBA content on multiple SINA platforms."
According to the league, the enhanced multi-year partnership makes the NBA the first U.S. professional sports league to offer specific destinations for all of its teams online and via mobile, a live game streamed daily on mobile and original programming. It also includes the launch of an NBA online community.
The deal enables SINA to continue as the official Internet and online community partner of the NBA in China, under which it operates NBA.com/China and provides NBA features on SINA.com and SINA.com's mobile Web, SINA Sports (SINA’s multi-sport application) and SINA Weibo (SINA’s micro-blog).
The league said that during the last three NBA seasons combined, a record 16 billion page views and 9 billion videos have been viewed by fans on NBA.com/China. This past season, total page views were up more than 40% and videos nearly 180% on the site versus the 2010-11 NBA season, the first year of the partnership.
The popularity of NBA players in China extends well beyond Ming, who played for the Chinese National Team before joining the Houston Rockets. According to the NBA, the Top Ten selling jerseys in the nation during the 2012-13 season were Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls), LeBron James (Miami Heat), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Jeremy Lin (Houston Rockets), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), Dwyane Wade (Heat), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves), Steve Nash (Lakers) and Chris Paul (Clippers).
"Our expanded partnership with SINA will provide fans more ways to connect directly with our game, whether they are online, on mobile, or interacting with millions of other fans via social media,” NBA commissioner David Stern said during a media conference, which also supported two games in the country (Los Angeles Lakers-Golden State Warriors in Beijing and Shanghai, both won by the Warriors) as part of its 2013-14 Global Games tour. “NBA fans in China are among the most passionate in the world, and with our great partner SINA we will continue to provide them with the definitive NBA experience.”
Among the enhanced content being made available on the SINA Sports mobile application will be one live NBA game streamed daily during the regular season and a series of live games during the NBA playoffs, including the entire NBA Conference Finals and the NBA Championship Finals.
SINA and the NBA said they also would launch "multi-platform original programming" during the season, including a new weekly NBA show.
“NBA fans in China are among the most passionate in the world, and with our great partner SINA we will continue to provide them with the definitive NBA experience.”
“As one of the leading sports media platforms, we are excited to extend our partnership with the NBA, which is the most renowned professional sports league in the world. With this partnership, we will be able to continue to grow our business in China,” Charles Chao SINA president and CEO, said during the media conference. “We will work with the NBA to establish a brand new cross-platform and multi-destination NBA streaming platform by integrating resources through SINA.com, SINA Weibo, the SINA.com Mobile Web and SINA Mobile Application.”
The partnerships with SINA and Yao Ming continue what the NBA called a "long-term commitment to basketball development in China." The NBA first hosted the Chinese national team in 1985 and is currently in the fourth year of a joint coaching program with the Chinese Basketball Assn., which has trained nearly 700 coaches. In September 2011, the CBA Dongguan Basketball School, an NBA Training Center, was launched for elite players ages 12-17. The school has trained more than 1,200 players and coaches.
NBA Seeks To Boost Global Marketing, Presence