Oct. 9 (UPI) — China’s CCTV announced that it will broadcast Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat on Friday, the first NBA broadcast in the country in more than a year.
The state-run network — which started televising NBA games in the early 1990s — pulled all NBA games from its programming in the wake of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting protests in Hong Kong last October.
In a statement released Friday, CCTV cited the league’s assistance with combating the coronavirus in China as one of the reasons for bringing NBA games back. Earlier this year, the league donated more than $1 million and medical equipment to the country.
“During the recent Chinese National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, the NBA sent their well wishes to fans in China,” CCTV said in its statement. “We also took note of the league [and how it] has been continuously delivering goodwill [to China], particularly making positive contributions to Chinese people’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The decision to restore NBA broadcasts in China marks a significant step in improving relations between the league and the country, which had been damaged by Morey’s post on social media and NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s comments in support of Morey.
Silver has made improving relations with China a priority over the past few months. In February, he said the league was facing more than $300 million in losses as many Chinese companies pulled their support of NBA franchises.
Games have still been available for online streaming in China, but fewer than in previous years. Last year, the NBA announced a $1.5 billion rights deal with streaming partner Tencent — also a partner with ESPN — to show games in China over the next five seasons.
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