Back in 2019, Daryl Morey’s comments about Hong Kong led to all NBA preseason games being pulled off Chinese TV. Weeks later, regular season games were pulled from the state-operated CCTV, and the league stayed off the air until Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals (which took place a full year after Morey’s comments). The NBA did not return in full to Chinese airwaves until March of 2021.
And while the ban was damaging at the time for the NBA, leading to plenty of spirited (to put it mildly) discussions about the league’s relationship with China, the NBA’s viewership in China is almost back to where it was three years ago before the ban was enforced, per a story from Reuters.
Viewership has jumped 80% for the first seven telecasts this season as compared to the first seven telecasts once broadcasts resumed on March 29 of last season.
Viewership is not quite, but close to where it was prior to the dispute, said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the data.
I’m not going to cheer on the NBA building a strong fanbase in China, but it seems clear that the league will continue with their strategy in the country in spite of the backlash towards their reaction towards Morey’s comments three years ago.