NBA picks Kuaishou as short-video content partner in latest attempt by sport to move on from China PR debacle
- Kuaishou becomes the latest NBA partner in China following a live-streaming deal with Tencent through the 2024-25 season
- Agreement fails to cheer investors as stock slumped 3 per cent in a weak broader market
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has signed up short video platform operator Kuaishou Technology as a content partner in China, one of the sport’s biggest markets outside the US, in a move seen as another attempt to close a two-year public relations disaster.
The Chinese technology company will help the NBA recreate the content based on its games, they said after announcing a “multi-year strategic partnership” in Beijing on Monday. Kuaishou will become the “official short video platform and video content creation community” for the association.
“Kuaishou is one of the most popular short video sites in China now,” said Michael Ma Xiaofei, head of NBA China. Both parties hope to “bring lively, innovative experience and active, healthy lifestyle to Chinese basketball fans,” he added.
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NBA games remain among the most popular and widely-watched sports in mainland China, even after a rift over civil rights and extradition laws in Hong Kong. Houston Rockets’ then-general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters in October 2019, drawing commercial backlash in China.
The tweet prompted a dozen Chinese firms, including Vivo and Trip.com, to cancel sponsorship deals. Tencent Holdings, which holds live-streaming rights, and the state-run China Central Television or CCTV, both suspended broadcasting NBA games for up to a year.
Kuaishou had 513 million monthly active users as of June 2021, according to its latest information. Co-founder Cheng Yixiao said the firm “values the long-term potential of the sports content market, and will constantly explore the construction of a sports community.”
Its rival Douyin, TikTok’s mainland sister app operated by ByteDance, had daily active users of 600 million in August 2020 and has been enriching its sports content as well, striking deals, for example, with English soccer club Manchester City to run exclusive content such as interviews, match highlights and documentaries.
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The announcement failed to shore up the stock in Hong Kong. Kuaishou slumped 3 per cent to HK$82.20 in Monday trading in a weak broader market. The Hang Seng Index lost 0.3 per cent after a report showing China’s economy slowed more than expected last quarter.
Monday’s deal made Kuaishou the second online content platform to partner with the NBA. The association has recently extended a deal to live-stream NBA games with Tencent Holdings through the 2024-25 season.
The NBA is a professional basketball league with 30 teams competing for the title. They generated US$7.92 billion in combined revenues in the 2019-20 season. Each team earned about US$62 million in gross profits on average due to broadcasting rights, despite playing only 80 per cent of their regular-season games because of the pandemic.