NBA Plans to Expand Streaming of Games in China, Silver Says

The National Basketball Association soon will announce plans to increase streaming of league games online in China, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said today.

“Beginning this season, we’re going to be streaming a game a day” in a deal with Sina Corp., owner of the Weibo microblogging service that is the largest Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Silver said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit hosted by Bloomberg Link in New York.

Sina, the NBA’s official Internet partner in China that first signed a deal with the league in 2010, also will have reporters covering each of the NBA’s 30 teams and produce a weekly show, said Silver, who succeeds David Stern as commissioner on Feb. 1.

The NBA is trying to increase interest in basketball in the world’s most populated country, where the league and its players are followed on Weibo by 60 million people, according to Silver.

During a recent trip to South Africa with the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program, Silver said, he told league employees in Johannesburg that their focus should be “mobile first.”

“It’s not repurposed programming but programming designed for mobile,” Silver said, highlighting the time differences abroad that keep fans there from watching U.S.-based games. “That’s our opportunity in China, in Africa, and also India.”

Sale Price

The Sacramento Kings were the most-recently sold NBA franchise, going in May for $534 million and the promise to build a new arena to a group led by Tibco Software Inc. founder Vivek Ranadive.

Though there are no NBA teams for sale now, Silver said his current frustration, and future focus, will be to increase prospective buyers’ understanding of how valuable the franchises will become as interest in the sport grows in other countries. He commended Ranadive, the league’s first Indian-born owner, for understanding that value.

“He saw the best deal in sports as the least expensive NBA team because he was buying 1/30th of our global prospects,” Silver said.

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