Latest News

Back to Latest News back


China blacks out coverage of opening games of NBA season

China blacks out coverage of opening games of NBA season
October 25, 2019

A dispute between the Chinese Government and the NBA has resulted in state broadcaster CCTV not showing the opening games of the 2019/20 North American basketball league season.

CCTV traditionally shows the opening games of the NBA season - the most popular league among Chinese audiences - but the season opener, between the reigning champion Toronto Raptors and the New Orleans Pelicans was blacked out on Tuesday.

The Raptors-Pelicans game was also absent from the NBA’s streaming partner in China, Tencent, although the broadcaster showed a later game between LeBron James’s LA Lakers and their cross-city rivals, the Clippers.

The NBA has been facing a backlash from the Chinese Government as well as sports officials and fans since the Houston Rockets General Manager, Daryl Morey, 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.

The incident has threatened the NBA’s sponsorship and broadcasting deals in China, which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, with Yahoo Sports estimating that the dispute with China could depress the league’s salary cap - and therefore NBA wages - by up to 15% next season.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has also revealed that the NBA had suffered “substantial” financial losses in China following the post.

Last weekend, Silver went on to advise that said Chinese officials had demanded that the Rockets fire Morey. The Chinese Government denied the claims and a commentary on CCTV said Silver would face “retribution sooner or later” for the comments.

China's huge appetite for the NBA last year saw 800 million viewers watch the league on TV or via streams, with NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum telling Forbes that NBA China, which was founded in 2008, was worth US$4 billion.

Reaction has also seen Houston Rockets merchandise removed from NBA retail outlets in China while US Vice-President Mike Pence yesterday criticised the NBA in a speech attacking Chinese diplomatic and trade policies.

In the speech in Washington DC late on Thursday, Vice-President Pence said Chinese policy was growing "more aggressive and destabilising", adding “in siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly-owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime.”

In the wider context of sports looking to expand in the Chinese market, the affair may well be highly instructive as an indication of that relationships in the economic superpower have to be handled very sensitively and that reaction to anything seen as interference in regional political matters can have unforeseen consequences.

Images: NBA opening week action betwen the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers (top) and an NBA store in Beijing (below).

Related Articles

13th March 2018 - Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett slams AFL’s international expansion plans

2nd October 2019 - Former NBA star heads new Brisbane Bullets ownership group

19th July 2019 - Sydney Kings name NBA great Luc Longley as new special advisor

11th July 2019 - Former NBA stars purchase ownership stake in South East Melbourne Phoenix

9th August 2018 - NBA China announces inaugural NBA Championship touring exhibition

16th February 2017 - NBA taps into the fast growing eSports market

10th November 2016 - NBA and Basketball Australia to launch NBA Global Academy

4th June 2019 - Undeterred by declining numbers for Shanghai fixture, AFL looks to expand presence in China

2nd September 2019 - Chinese Government looks at new initiatives to decentralise sports industries

15th February 2019 - News report suggests few Chinese sports venues are profitable

2nd August 2019 - MLB China hires former Fox Network Asia Vice-President as Managing Director

19th September 2018 - NHL looks to grow in China ahead of 2022 Winter Olympics

27th March 2019 - White paper flags rise of Chinese Super League football

28th November 2016 - China’s plan to massively expand its sports industry

23rd October 2015 - NBL looks to expand Australian basketball in Asia

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


A leading designer and manufacturer of innovative waterslides and attractions, Australian Waterslides and Leisure (AWL) is also able to advise clients in the areas of concept and design, feasibility…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Waterparks


BioLab Australia Pty Ltd

BioGuard is Australia and New Zealand’s most trusted supplier of premium, innovative and affordable commercial water treatment systems and chemicals. BioGuard offers a comprehensive range of…

read more

Aquatics / Technology / Waterparks


XBODY Australia Pty Ltd

PROVEN BUSINESS CONCEPTS WITH XBODY XBody’s goal is to see you and your EMS business succeed. That is why we don’t just sell equipment, we provide know-how, expert knowledge,…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness



Commercial Aquatics Australia provides aquatic solutions nationwide and is one of the largest and most experienced companies specialising in the design, construction, renovation, service, maintenance…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Play / Waterparks


TJS Services

TJS Services is a leading national facility services provider. We deliver quality cleaning, maintenance, construction and facility management services to over 1,500 sites Australia wide.  Our…

read more

Hospitality / Retail / Venues


Felton Industries

Felton Industries is Australia’s leading designer, manufacturer and supplier of quality outdoor furniture and has been supplying premium seating solutions for all sporting, commercial, community…

read more

Parks / Play / Recreation / Sport / Venues



Quayclean are a national cleaning and waste services partner with proven results in the understanding and delivery of cleaning needs and challenges faced by facilities including; major venues and…

read more

Aquatics / Hospitality / Surfaces / Venues


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business