Silver expanded that the losses would be “probably less than $400 million,” according to the Wall Street Journal, although he also said that the final impact might be even lower.
The issues stem back to Morey’s tweet, which showed support for the protestors in Hong Kong. That enraged the Chinese government in Beijing and has put the NBA in a tough position balancing its commitment to protecting free speech while also pursuing business goals in a lucrative market.
While some of those tensions have blown over, others still exist.
Tencent is still showing a reduced number of games compared to last season, and Chinese state-run television still has not broadcast NBA games this season, according to the WSJ. Chinese sponsors have also cut ties with the Rockets, previously one of the most popular teams in the country. Rockets games have not yet appeared on the country’s top streaming platform this season.
“It’s substantial,” Silver said, according to the WSJ. “I don’t want to run from that. We were taken off the air in China for a period of time, and it caused our many business partners in China to feel it was therefore inappropriate to have ongoing relationships with us. But I don’t have any sense that there’s any permanent damage to our business there.”
Impact Of Coronavirus
The Coronavirus outbreak has also challenged the NBA’s efforts to resolve some of those issues with the Chinese government further. As millions of people across the country have been living under quarantine, the NBA getting its games back on CCTV has been far from a governmental priority, according to the WSJ.
“It’s almost hard for us to be having conversations about the broadcasting of games when there is a major national, if not global, health crisis happening,” Silver said, according to the WSJ.
Silver said that when the NBA is on television again in the country is out of the league’s control and that he isn’t pressing the issue given the most significant matters at hand.
Regardless of these issues, China remains the league’s top foreign market.
When Silver opened his annual news conference during All-Star weekend, he addressed the recent passings of Kobe Bryant and David Stern, as well as the impact of the Coronavirus on China.
“We wish you all the best in dealing with these tragic circumstances and encourage you to stay strong and hope you can find some solace through sports and the things we’re doing at the NBA,” Silver said, according to the WSJ.