07 Dec 2018

By: Sport Industry Group

The NBA has become the first western rightsholder to partner with ByteDance, the Chinese start-up whose AI-powered content platforms are driving rapid worldwide growth.

The multi-year agreement will see NBA videos ranging from game highlights, behind-the-scene clips and news delivered across ByteDance’s social media platforms, which include Douyin, Toutiao and Xigua Video.

Content will also be available in selected regions outside China through TikTok, ByteDance’s short-form video social media platform. In addition to the NBA, all 30 NBA teams also have official accounts as part of the new deal. 

It comes as ByteDance continues to push TikTok outside of China.

Revenue is said to have more than tripled in the past year, partly due to sports stars such as NBA legend Kobe Bryant and skateboarder Tony Hawk joining the platform.

ByteDance was founded in 2012 and is now valued at more than $75 billion. Its success is largely down to the artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that deliver customised content feeds to users.

The company’s intelligent machines use computer vision and natural language processing technology to understand and analyse written content, images and videos with the aim of delivering content that users really want.

As part of is agreement with the firm, the NBA will collaborate with ByteDance’s AI Lab on “Tech Features” that will include exploring the latest technology and innovation in artificial intelligence to further enhance the game for fans.

Bill Koenig, NBA president, global content and media distribution, commented: “The NBA is thrilled to partner with ByteDance, one of the most innovative companies in the world and an industry leader in customized short-form content.

“This new partnership will help meet the demand that ByteDance’s hundreds of millions of users have for the NBA by intelligently integrating league content across ByteDance’s many platforms.”

Liu Zhen, senior vice president of corp development at ByteDance added: “NBA content is very popular and highly sought after by our users.  ByteDance has a strong international footprint of global platforms that empower creation and interaction, which allow users to present and consume the world’s creativity, knowledge and moments that matter in everyday life.  This makes ByteDance a great partner for NBA.” 

“Powered by artificial intelligence technology that enables intelligent discovery, our platforms TikTok, Douyin, Toutiao and Xigua Video are extremely well-positioned to meet the demands of users seeking to consume and interact with sports content on mobile platforms in a smart and efficient way.”

The move comes with ByteDance set for a phase of rapid international expansion. The firm’s global footprint already includes Japan, South Korea, India, Europe, Brazil, North America and Southeast Asia.

The company is currently recruiting heavily in the UK.