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Tencent Falls $90 Billion Behind Alibaba After NBA China Row

  • The NBA backlash may jeopardize overall media ambitions
  • Gaming shows signs of improvement though uncertainty persists
Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets shoots over the Chicago Bulls during a game in Chicago on Nov. 9.

Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets shoots over the Chicago Bulls during a game in Chicago on Nov. 9.

Photographer: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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Just a year ago, Tencent Holdings Ltd. locked up one of the most coveted media franchises in the country when it paid $1.5 billion for five years of exclusive streaming rights to National Basketball Association games. A single tweet changed all that.

Now, the Chinese social media giant may have to suspend airing those matchups -- which drew half a billion viewers last year -- after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey triggered a media blackout in China by tweeting support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. That sums up a disappointing 2019 for a company that looked like it was back on track after a horrendous 2018.