NBA Begins ‘Strategic Collaboration’ With Giant Chinese Company

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James Lynch Contributor
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The NBA and Chinese financial technology giant Ant Group announced on Tuesday a “comprehensive strategic collaboration” to create original content on Alipay, Ant’s payment platform.

Alipay users will gain exposure to original NBA content and customized fan experiences through the collaboration, Ant Group and NBA China said in a press release. Types of content will include video content, joint membership, NBA-mini program, joint marketing campaigns, digital collectables and social responsibility initiatives. (RELATED: Enes Kanter Freedom Slams The NBA’s Relationship With China, Calls The League Extremely ‘Hypocritical’)

“The NBA is always seeking to embrace innovative technology,” said NBA China CEO Michael Ma. “We have a common vision with Ant Group, which is to bring rich and high-quality content services and consumer experience to fans through digital services, blockchain technology and other user-friendly technologies. Through our cooperation with Ant Group, more fans will be able to experience the excitement and passion of the NBA more conveniently than ever before.”

NBA China is the league’s outpost for all business operations in the country. It was formed in 2008 after the NBA opened its Hong Kong office in 1992. NBA China created an NBA channel on Alipay on Feb. 15th, featuring content from the league’s Chinese influencers and Alipay’s authorized content creators.

The NBA has developed a close relationship with China since the league began broadcasting games on Chinese state TV in the 1980s. Critics have objected to the NBA’s support for progressive causes in America while downplaying China’s alleged human rights violations towards Uyghur muslims and other minority groups.

When former Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong in October 2019, China stopped broadcasting NBA games for 17 months until a matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz was televised in April 2022.

Ant Group is an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba, a state-backed multinational corporation founded by Jack Ma, a billionaire living in exile after criticizing the Chinese Communist Party in October 2020.