Adam Silver spoke about the adoption of new technology and the NBA’s broadcast relationship with China

Adam Silver set the record with Time earlier this week as the NBA was named one of the publication’s top 100 influential companies.

The NBA commissioner’s comments focused on the current state of professional basketball and its future, but he also touched on a few very relevant topics, including how technology has fueled the league’s growth and relationship with China.

On how the NBA has embraced technology and social media for (mostly) the best:

Technology has been the accelerator for us. As much growth as we’ve seen over the last decade thanks to technology, I think we’ll see a multiple of that growth over the next decade. Because the technology has improved so much. My joke is sometimes now I have a huge TV on the wall in my living room in my apartment. But for convenience I will often watch on my phone because the quality is so good. The user interface is better. It’s easier to tap the app and watch any game than it is to find my way through 2,000 channels and legacy systems that work through traditional cable and satellite.

The other aspect where the internet has fundamentally changed the league is that it has allowed our players to demonstrate how truly multidimensional they really are. And whether it is more in-depth knowledge of the game of basketball, their favorite music, or a political point of view, they have now received this platform. The game comes to life for a lot of people.

Silver’s take on legacy distribution technology is fascinating, as it’s certainly something other league commissioners may not really be considering. (Considering what we’ve seen of Rob Manfred, for example, it’s hard to imagine Rob Manfred watching baseball, let alone considering the different ways that baseball fans interact with different forms of broadcast and broadcast technology. diffusion.)

It’s an important recognition, however, and how the NBA and other leagues handle the upcoming migration of traditional TV providers and other options will be very important to bottom lines and rights negotiations.

Perhaps an even bigger deal for NBA results: the league’s relationship with China, which is strained at best at the moment, about a year and a half after Daryl Morey’s pro-Hong Kong protest tweet . Silver was measured with his remarks, as one would expect for such a touchy subject, but he immediately pointed to the NBA’s partnership with Tencent as a potential agent of change:

We continue to distribute our games in China. Our biggest TV partner is Tencent, which is a streaming service in China. And we have hundreds of millions of fans in China that we continue to serve. I’m going to take a step back and reiterate the mission of the NBA, which is to improve people’s lives through basketball.

And we believe that exporting NBA basketball to China and virtually every country in the world continues to be part of our mission. The political science major in me thinks engagement is better than isolation. That a so-called boycott of China, taking into account legitimate critiques of the Chinese system, will not advance the agenda of those seeking to bring about global change. Working with Chinese only on NBA basketball has been a clear advantage in building a relationship between two superpowers.

Silver noted that this would not only magically lead to change for the betterment of the company, but that it was the kind of tightrope that all companies looking to conquer emerging markets must walk. But the league is clearly planning more Chinese shows in the future, which means finding a way to cross the line between income generation and, well, doing the right thing from a rights perspective. man. It will take more than a few paragraphs in an interview to handle this, no matter how unfazed Silver remains.


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