For years the National Basketball Association has been trying to globalize its game. An influx of African, European and Asian players over the years has made some progress, along with various international marketing efforts. Those efforts to make the NBA‘s brand popular in the nation of China just got a huge boost.
Minnesota Timberwolves Sale Opens Chinese Market
Glen Taylor, the principal owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has sold off five percent of the team to Lizhang Jiang, an investor from Shanghai. Jiang becomes the first Chinese owner in the history of the NBA, and his personal stake in the success of the franchise should prove beneficial to the NBA’s interests in China.
Jiang is already known on the world professional sports market. He also owns the Spanish football team Granada CF. Additionally, he already has the marketing machine ready, as he is the founder of Double-Edge Sports.
The NBA estimates that roughly 300 million Chinese people play basketball. Preseason games in the nation have been tremendous successes, showing that the market is ready for more of the NBA’s product.
How the NBA can conquer China
Outside of scheduling more games in China, there are potential strategies to expand the brand. The NBA already has a partnership with Chinese internet service provider Tencent. That could provide the forum to expand Timberwolves and other NBA games streaming on Chinese devices, along with all the ad sales that would go along with that.
Double-Edge Sports can easily acquire a license to manufacture official NBA and Timberwolves merchandise now that Jiang has a stake in the franchise, and retailers will likely do all they can to get it on their shelves given the sport’s popularity.
The ultimate goals of regular season games in China and Chinese-language broadcasts are still in sight. With Jiang’s stake in the Timberwolves, we may now have a better idea of at least one team which may be involved in the future.