An Ant Group logo is seen at the company’s headquarters on October 9, 2020 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China.
Ding Junhao | Visual China Group | Getty Images
Chinese fintech giant Ant Group said on Tuesday it has entered into a strategic partnership with China’s NBA league, with the two collaborating in areas such as video content, program broadcasts and membership.
Fans in China would be able to access NBA video content on Alipay, Ant Group’s hugely popular payment app, the company said in a statement.
The partnership with the Chinese business arm of the professional basketball league will also cover areas such as joint marketing campaigns and digital collectibles, Ant Group said.
NBA China last week launched a channel in Alipay that shows user-generated content from NBA China’s network of influencers and Alipay’s authorized content creators, Ant Group added.
The NBA is one of the most popular cultural exports from the United States to China, earning hundreds of millions of dollars a year from its presence in the Chinese market.
However, a decades-long partnership with state broadcaster CCTV was disrupted in October 2019 when then-Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of widespread protests in Hong Kong, a Chinese-ruled city mired in a political crisis that spanned months. of demonstrations against the government.
Morey’s tweet, though quickly deleted, was strongly criticized in China, and CCTV immediately stopped showing NBA games, in what became an 18-month blackout.
Basketball fans in China are watching NBA games at levels close to where they were before the 2019 split, Reuters reported in December, citing a source familiar with the league’s ratings.