As Fanatics continues to hold off on a potential IPO, the sports merchandise company is busy expanding global operations, this time in China. The Michael Rubin-led company is starting Fanatics China, a joint venture with investment firm Hillhouse Capital, an Asia-focused private equity fund with companies in Asia’s e-commerce and retail sectors, the company told CNBC. Sources close to the deal told CNBC Fanatics expects the “venture alone to be over a $1 billion piece of business in China.”
China Central Television (CCTV), China’s state broadcaster, will resume the live streaming of NBA basketball games on March 8, starting with the 2020/21 season’s All-Star Game, a renowned Chinese basketball reporter disclosed on Saturday.
“If there are no surprises, CCTV will resume broadcasting NBA events during the All-Star Weekend in early March, as many fans have been waiting for a long time,” basketball reporter Zhao Huanyu wrote on China’s Twitter-like social media platform Sina Weibo on Saturday, quoting sources.
While other news has dominated sports headlines since the impasse began in 2019, the Chinese government continues to quietly keep the NBA off the air in the world’s largest basketball market. The TV exile began in October 2019 when then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators facing a violent crackdown by mainland China’s authoritarian communist government.
It’s unclear when the NBA will be back on Chinese televisions. The league declined to comment on its relationship with the Chinese broadcasters. The 76ers also declined to comment about the situation or say whether potential reaction from China was a discussion topic when Morey was hired. Privately-owned Tencent, which must abide by government mandates and has streamed the NBA since 2009, issued a brief statement: “We are a long-standing partner of the NBA and are committed to catering to the interests of the NBA fan base in China.”
NBA veteran Jeremy Lin is front and centre of the league’s 10th anniversary of Lunar New Year commercials, which features a flashback to the “Linsanity” period of February, 2012. The advert shows three fans making a 10-year pact to watch games every Lunar New Year, with Lin’s time at the New York Knicks providing the action.