China’s CBA to develop smart venues through Migu deal

The Chinese Basketball Association, organising body of the CBA top-tier men’s league, has today (Wednesday) signed a lucrative five-year deal with Migu, the video entertainment subsidiary of telecommunications company China Mobile, that will lead to the delivery of 5G smart arenas.

The wide-ranging agreement builds on an existing partnership signed between the two parties in October 2018 which involved live streaming and on-demand broadcast rights. The new deal, reportedly worth in excess of CNY2bn (£229.1m/$283.1m/€260.6m), according to Chinese sports media platform Lanxiong Sports, will commence from the 2020-21 season, which has been delayed because of COVID-19.

Due to the current situation, the two parties held a ‘cloud signing’ today. In the next five seasons, CBA will work with Migu to jointly build a 5G laboratory, explore more applications of live broadcast technology based on 5G network transmission, and develop 5G smart venues to enhance the fan experience.

The five-year contract also includes exclusive IPTV rights, non-exclusive streaming rights and a sponsorship package. Yao Ming, chairman of the China Basketball Association, said: “In the next five seasons, CBA will work with Migu to take advantage of China Mobile’s leading technological advantages to jointly develop 5G smart venue standards to improve the level of high-definition signal production provided to fans across the country. A mobile exclusive CBA membership service will be offered to fully enhance the CBA fans’ viewing experience.”

The Chinese government last week ordered all major sports events to remain suspended due to COVID-19, meaning that competitions such as the CBA and football’s Super League (CSL) will have to put off hope of a mid-April return to action.

The CBA has been suspended since January 24. The league is reportedly considering a proposal to bring all 20 teams to one or two cities, potentially Dongguan or Qingdao, to play games behind closed doors. Teams currently have 16 regular-season games left to play.