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NBA, China's Haier Form HD Global Alliance

The National Basketball Association and Chinese appliance manufacturer Haier this week announced a strategic partnership to expand Haier's global presence for HD sets and other CE units and to "reinforce its leadership position" in China.

China Vice Premier Madam Wu Yi met NBA Commissioner David Stern, along with various Chinese and American executives from Haier, this week for what is believed to be the first long-term arrangement between a major U.S. sports interest and a Chinese firm. They gathered for the announcement at Haier's factory in Camden, S.C. (Its other factories are located in five African nations.)

Haier is China's largest manufacturer of appliances (including HD monitors), and perhaps the third largest in the world. The firm said it plans to use the NBA's array of marketing assets, media, and other initiatives to showcase its HD technology in the U.S. and China. One of the NBA's most popular players is from China: 7-foot-5-inch Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets. (He was not noted in any literature for this new commercial venture.)

To be known as "Official Partner of High Definition Televisions for the NBA," Haier will soon launch a new line of HD sets in America. The NBA said it will showcase these and other Haier CE products through its regional and national media assets -- including embedding HD content from NBA-TV, various high-profile sports events and extensive NBA-themed retail promotions.

Both parties said in a statement they plan to also reinforce their brands in China through a co-branded ad campaign that will run throughout the league's extensive broadcasts on 24 TV networks across the Chinese mainland. Haier's products and interactive promotions will also be featured in a section of the NBA Web site, and in the 60-year-old basketball league's grassroots events and tours across China and its 1.3 billion people.