Tencent resumes streaming live NBA games as China tries to improve image abroad
Chinese supergiant Tencent plans to resume the broadcasting of NBA games a day after the start of the 2019-20 regular season after a week-plus decision not to live stream any of the league’s preseason games. The company, which suspended its usual livestream of NBA action in the wake of a feud between the league and the Chinese government, aired the Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors on Monday, as well as the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv — both taking place outside of China.
Tencent did not air either of the two games featuring the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai and Shenzhen, respectively but recent quiet changes reveal the company won’t be banning games for long.
An October 6 statement by Tencent Sports on on microblogging site Weibo, which announced a decision to ban streaming of NBA games, was unpinned from the top of the page. According to Bloomberg, Tencent will stream pre-season games in pictures and text only until October 23, when video streaming will resume fully. It comes amid efforts by the Chinese government to cool down the crisis over concerns that harsh criticism of the NBA is hurting China’s image abroad, according to the New York Times.
It seems China is coming off as bitter in the eyes of the world, and is now in the process of trying to clean it up by letting it fade away over time.
Tencent has been the NBA’s largest overseas partner since signing a five-year, $1.5 billion deal to stream NBA games in China.