Thursday , Jan , 17 , 2008 Oly Sandor

The Yao-Yi Effect

Call it the Yao-Yi effect. Their success has created a hoop crazy nation. And multinationals are now eyeing the Chinese basketball explosion like an NBA player eyes a groupie at the post-game night club. Of course, big business will commit long-term to China , hoping to leverage the NBA brand into a full-fledged Chinese league …

The Yao-Yi EffectPatrick Frater of Variety reports on Disney writing a huge check to get involved in NBA China: 

Disney, plutocrat Li Ka-shing and three Chinese financiers have invested $253 million in NBA China, a new sports rights body that aims to harness the huge popularity of basketball in the country.

The cash buys them 11% of NBA China and puts an initial value of $2.3 billion on the org. Disney is buying 5%, while Li’s charity Li Ka-shing Foundation, Bank of China, China Merchants Bank and Legend Holdings, parent of computer giant Lenovo, split the remaining 6%.

The AM Take: Call it the Yao-Yi effect. Their success has created a hoop crazy nation. And multinationals are now eyeing the Chinese basketball explosion like an NBA player eyes a groupie at the post-game night club.

Of course, big business will commit long-term to China, hoping to leverage the NBA brand into a full-fledged Chinese league.

Disney wants in. ESPN, the NBA’s broadcast partner, is under the Disney umbrella of companies. The creators of Mickey know a regular season game between Yao and Yi was watched by 200 million Chinese citizens.

They see the potential. And Disney will likely use their shares in NBA China to cross promote other holdings/products in the world’s biggest market.

Fast-forward to this summer when the world heads to Beijing for the Olympics. The original Dream Team set off the Euro explosion and Team USA will do the same for China.

Investment in NBA China is one more sign the league has truly gone global. The future, at least for David Stern and the suits at head office, is overseas.

What do you think of the Yao-Yi effect? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts.

The AM Take is Oly’s morning thoughts on the NBA, appearing Sunday through Friday on HoopsVibe.com. Errors can be attributed to the time and his need for another coffee. Click here to get his AM Take and subscribe to his blog.