NBA expands Sirius deal; Rockets return to Tencent schedules
Under the terms of the multi-year agreement, SiriusXM subscribers with the Premier Streaming Package will get access to live audio broadcasts for every NBA game, as well as 30 additional play-by-play channels on the SiriusXM app and at SiriusXM.com, each dedicated to carrying the official radio broadcast for each NBA team.
The 2020-21 NBA season got under way late last month, and the first Houston Rockets match in 15 months was televised in China today.
Tencent, which holds exclusive streaming rights to the NBA in China, broadcast the Rockets' defeat by the Lakers.
None of the Rockets matches in the 2019-20 season were shown in China after former general manager Daryl Morey sent a tweet supporting anti-government protests in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.
Morey has now joined the Philadelphia 76ers and neither Tencent nor state broadcaster CCTV are covering the team's games.
Even though Morey quit the Rockets in October, Tencent had maintained its blackout of the matches until the Lakers clash.
While Tencent showed all NBA games not involving the Rockets in 2019-20, CCTV continued its blackout for the majority of the campaign, but eventually aired Game 5 and Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Lakers and Miami Heat in October which appeared to indicate a thaw in the rift with the league.
Meanwhile, the NBA said it has no plans to temporarily halt the 2020-21 season, despite teams struggling to cope with the impact of rising Covid-19 cases and injuries.
Sunday’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Heat was postponed because the Heat did not have the league-mandated eight players available after contact tracing protocols left them shorthanded.
A spokesman for the NBA told ESPN: “We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned the schedule accordingly. There are no plans to pause the season, and we will continue to be guided by our medical experts and health and safety protocols.”
The 76ers, which faced the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, also had the minimum eight players active due to injuries and virus concerns.
The NBA had postponed the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Rockets last month.
The current season has a reduced schedule of 72 games per team.