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NBA Gets Live-Streaming Access in Japan With Rakuten TV

9 Oct, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

With the season set to begin Oct. 17, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Rakuten Oct. 9 announced a multiyear partnership making the media company the league’s exclusive distribution partner in Japan for all live NBA games.

This marks the NBA’s most comprehensive media partnership in Japan and Rakuten’s first with a North American sports league. In July, the company also became the main global partner for Spanish soccer club FC Barcelona.

This season, Rakuten will offer NBA League Pass, the league’s live subscription service, to consumers in Japan through NBA.com, the NBA App and for purchase through Rakuten’s video-on-demand service, Rakuten TV (tv.rakuten.co.jp).

The SVOD service enables users to watch all NBA games, including playoffs, the NBA all-star game, NBA conference finals and finals, among other programs. Rakuten TV will stream nine games a week, one game per weekday and two games each on Saturday and Sunday.

“Our new relationship with Rakuten speaks to the appetite that our fans in Japan have for live NBA games and content, and we look forward to working with Rakuten to provide the most comprehensive NBA coverage to date,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

Rakuten has a separate business partnership with NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

The global pact allows Rakuten to create NBA and team zones, and sell select NBA and team merchandise on its e-commerce channels globally, including Rakuten Ichiba in Japan and Ebates, a membership-based online cash-back site in the United States.

Rakuten Viber, Rakuten’s instant messaging platform, will also become an official platform for the NBA and its teams, providing their more than 900 million users with access to league content.

“It is an honor to expand our contributions to the global growth and development of basketball with this NBA partnership,” said Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten.

The NBA’s presence in Japan dates back almost 30 years. NBA games and programming have been broadcast since the 1988-89 season, and officially licensed NBA merchandise is widely available at more than 180 Xebio stores across Japan.

The league has conducted a number of events in Japan, including 12 regular-season games in three cities, interactive fan events, NBA Cares community outreach initiatives, and in 2012, Basketball Without Borders, the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program.


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