NBA Creates Its First Reality Show in China

League Partners With Mengniu Dairy and Shandong Satellite TV for 'Basketball Disciple'

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BEIJING ( -- The National Basketball Association has partnered with two Chinese companies, the China Mengniu Dairy Co. and provincial broadcaster Shandong Satellite TV, to create the basketball league's first reality show.

NBA legend Darryl Dawkins poses with students from Beijing Sports University.
NBA legend Darryl Dawkins poses with students from Beijing Sports University.
The show, called "Mengniu NBA Basketball Disciple," will follow a three-month basketball competition starting with public tryouts in 64 cities in China. The players will compete in a variety of skills competitions and be awarded points based on performance in four rounds.

Following a final all-star game in the last round, the player with the most cumulative points will be crowned the most valuable player of the competition and win an all-expenses-paid trip to the U.S. for a tryout with a team from the NBA's minor league.

Former NBA players such as Darryl Dawkins, who played with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets, scouts and a coach will appear throughout the series to run competitions, evaluate players, award points and determine which competitors advance to the next round. An NBA mascot and dance team will also be on-site to provide entertainment for NBA fans.

Shandong TV will air a 50-minute episode every Friday from May 22 to Aug. 21 at 9:30 p.m. A final 90-minute awards show will air live on Aug. 28 and feature Chinese celebrities as presenters and performers. The broadcaster will promote the reality series with nearly 2,500 promos for the next five months.

Mengniu will run events alongside the reality series as it moves around China, said Tim Chen, CEO of NBA China in Beijing. The Chinese dairy, an NBA marketing partner since 2007, will be featured throughout the series via on-site branding, product integration, media and promotions.

The company's brand awareness skyrocketed when it sponsored the "Mengniu Yoghurt Super Girl Contest," a national singing contest in China produced by Hunan Satellite TV from 2004 to 2006. It quickly became one of the biggest hits in the history of Chinese TV.

Mengniu is also using the NBA show to help rebuild its image. China's dairy industry was hit by a major scandal last year, when another company, Sanlu Group, was caught using the harmful additive melamine in its infant milk formula. Six babies died, and hundreds of thousands of children became ill. Mengniu was among the 22 other companies later named for having milk-powder samples that tested positive for melamine as well, causing major damage to its brand status and sales since September 2008.

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