Professional basketball has enjoyed widespread popularity in China, with the NBA bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually from the Chinese market. But in recent years, the league’s relationship with the country has been a rocky one. In particular, social media posts from NBA team general managers that were critical of the Chinese government have prompted harsh condemnation.
As of February 2023, the relationship between China and the NBA appears to be prepared for a reconciliation. According to an announcement by the superstar Chinese fintech, Ant Group and the NBA have signed a comprehensive strategic collaboration that will bring a new degree of video broadcasting and digital engagement to the Chinese market.
Ant Group Chief Technology Officer Xingjun Ni described lofty goals for the partnership. In a press release on the collaboration, Ni said that Ant Group intends to “work closely with the NBA to explore creative digitalization models in the service sector, joint operations of membership and innovative interactions.” They hope to build a digital platform for NBA fans in China and bring in new services and interactions in sports in the digital era.