Caixin
Mar 07, 2017 06:15 AM
BUSINESS & TECH

Weibo Signs Media Partnership With NBA

(Beijing) – Chinese social media giant Weibo Corp. expanded its online sports presence by signing a partnership with NBA China to become the American professional basketball league’s official social media broadcasting platform.

The deal came after Sina Corp., Weibo’s parent company and a major news portal, lost its NBA digital broadcasting rights last year to rival Tencent Holdings. Sina switched strategy to cooperate with the NBA on Weibo, a social media platform similar to Twitter.

Last month, Weibo live-streamed American professional football’s Super Bowl to Chinese viewers.

Social media has transformed the way Chinese fans learn about and watch National Basketball Association games, said NBA China CEO David Shoemaker.

Social media platforms are becoming a central battlefield for promoting local and international sporting events, Weibo said in a statement. As international sports increasingly look to China for growth, Chinese internet companies are competing for pieces of the fast-growing industry.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group last month won exclusive new-media broadcasting rights for the Asian Winter Games Feb. 19-26 in the Japanese cities of Sapporo and Obihiro. Earlier this year, Alibaba agreed to sponsor the next six Olympics in a deal worth an estimated $600 million. It is also reported to be in discussions with FIFA to become a sponsor of the World Cup.

Weibo Chief Executive Officer Wang Gaofei said the partnership with NBA China would be the first step in the company’s efforts to bring contents of top international sports events to Chinese audiences.

Under its new NBA partnership, Weibo will deliver content including daily game highlights, player interviews, photos and statistics, live-streamed NBA events, and behind-the-scenes videos. Weibo and NBA China will also co-produce original NBA-themed programs that will be featured on NBA China's official Weibo accounts and other authorized accounts.

Weibo boasted about 313 million monthly active users at the end of December, with 90% of them accessing the platform on mobile devices.

According to Weibo, the official NBA account on its platform has 32.78 million followers, and 30 NBA teams also have fans following their Weibo accounts. In total, the NBA can reach more than 60 million fans on Weibo. In the U.S., the NBA Twitter account has 24.4 million followers.

In February, Weibo’s live-stream of the Super Bowl as part of its partnership with the National Football League drew 3 million viewers and generated 1.6 billion related posts.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com)

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