NBA launches outreach for fans in China

Updated: 2014-06-06 11:50

By Jack Freifelder in New York (China Daily USA)

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The championship series of the National Basketball Association (NBA) is underway, and this year the league has introduced a number of initiatives for its global audience, including for social media sites in China and other countries.

The NBA Finals started Thursday in San Antonio, Texas, featuring a rematch between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. Miami has played in the last three NBA Championships, winning the last two. San Antonio has the most international players in the NBA, nine, though none are from China.

The NBA Finals is a chance to crown the league's champion, and one NBA official said the initiatives that are being launched this week will increase engagement with international fans across a number of platforms. The first-time endeavors include interacting with players on social media and new broadcast partnerships.

The NBA has more than 625 million social media followers across all league, team and player pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Sina and Tencent, according to an NBA press release.

"With a great Finals taking place this year - a rematch of the Spurs versus the Heat - it's a perfect time for us to capture the world stage," said Matt Brabants, senior vice-president of Global Media Distribution and Business Operations for the NBA..

"We have such a huge fan base in China, so this just represents a great time for us to engage with them," he said in an interview with China Daily. "Given the flexibility, mobility and intimacy that digital access provides, we can try to show them what it's like to be in San Antonio and Miami for these games."

This year's championship series is being broadcast in 47 languages with coverage available in 215 countries and territories.

For fans in China, China Central Television (CCTV), China's national TV station, will be onsite in the US to produce a feed of all the games, with commentary and infographics in Mandarin.

NBA China, based in Beijing, has relationships with a number of television and digital media partners, including a partnership of more than 25 years with CCTV.

Sina Corp, a leading online Chinese media company that maintains a web page for each of the 30 NBA teams, will stream every game live online in China. It will also provide additional content through Sina Weibo, the popular Chinese micro blog service, and the company's Sina Sports mobile application. "

CEO of NBA China David Shoemaker told China Daily in a January interview that NBA China has "nearly 70 million fans and followers" of its social media platforms.

Brabants said: "The stuff that we'll be doing on Weibo and the coverage we'll be providi