Bryant sets record with huge Sina audience
Updated: 2015-06-11 07:55
By Sun Xiaochen(China Daily)
NBA All-Star guard Kobe Bryant's debut as a commentator at a live Finals game caused a sensation when it was streamed in China on Monday, raising expectations for his summer tour in a country where he enjoys massive popularity.
The Los Angeles Lakers player, arguably the most popular current NBA player in China, embraced a new role by sharing his insights and analysis as a guest commentator before and after Game 3 of the NBA Finals on sina.com and the online media company's mobile platform.
The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors 96-91.
The five-time NBA champion's appearance attracted a massive audience and generated a strong reaction on Chinese social media.
The peak audience on Sina's mobile platform reached 66.5 million, double the previous record, while more than 120,000 viewers posted comments during the game, according to Wei Jianglei, general manager of Sina Sports.
"Kobe's presence was a real success, as his celebrity status helped draw unprecedented attention to our live streaming of the Finals and set a new standard for online broadcasting," Wei said.
Bryant has visited China 10 times since his first trip in 2001 and enjoys a huge fan base in the country, where he has more than 3.4 million followers on his personal Sina Weibo micro blog account.
A fan event scheduled in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, during Bryant's visit in August 2013 was canceled due to security concerns, after more than 10,000 people turned up.
The 36-year-old will return to the country this summer to initiate a partnership with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, launch an official personal website on Sina and bring a movie about his life to Chinese cinemas.
An extended version of the documentary, Kobe Bryant's Muse, will debut in China on July 31, and products inspired by the movie will be launched on tmall.com, an online retailing platform owned by Alibaba.
"The film has a new chapter and I am looking forward to seeing fans' reaction of it in China," he said. "I wish I could continue that relationship (with Chinese fans), come to China and teach my basketball philosophy."
Lin Xianpeng, a professor of marketing at Beijing Sport University, said, "Bryant will be the first of his kind to launch online sales of personal products through a popular e-shopping site, which reflects the strong appeal of his image and brand in China."
Bryant, who has been sidelined by a shoulder injury since January, predicted that the Warriors will win the Finals, and he said he will resume shooting practice in about 90 days.
"The strength of my shoulder is getting better," he said. "I feel like a fish being put back in the water."
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