During his annual pre-playoff media conference call Wednesday afternoon, NBA commissioner David Stern addressed the league's interest in China, and he said television ratings and social media hits were up this season -- thanks in part to Jeremy Lin.
"This year, our ratings are up in China actually and not just because of Jeremy Lin, although that did have some impact on our ratings in China," Stern said. "The interest in our game in China continues to be very high and we are streaming games on Sina.com and our social media numbers are higher than we can possibly have imagined.
"We are very happy with the development of China, but we would like to have another Chinese All-Star player as well. And as Chinese basketball continues to improve, I have no doubt, no doubt, that we will."
In 2010-11, the NBA had its strongest presence to date in China via television, online and mobile. But through only the first and week and a half after Linsanity started on Feb. 4, those properties soared to new heights. China's CCTV had a 39 percent viewership rise and NBA.com/China amassed 4.7 billion page views (a 43 percent increase from last season).
Since then, the league's Asian TV partners have requested more and more games. In fact, the demand was so high at one point that ESPN hosted a TV party in Taiwan for the Knicks-Lakers game on Feb. 10. An estimated 350 people were expected to show up, but 1,200 did and it became a standing-room-only event.
On social media during that stretch in February, Lin's followers on Sina, the Chinese version of Twitter, almost quintupled, from more than 190,000 on Feb. 2 to some 916,000 through Feb. 14. And here in the States during that same time frame, Lin had more Twitter mentions than LeBron James.
Whenever Lin returns, potentially in the semifinals if the Knicks can upset their higher-seeded opponent (the Bulls, Heat or Pacers), Linsanity will only continue to grow.
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