NBA Spurs Growth In Japan With Rakuten Global Marketing, Media Partnership
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 07:02PM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Japan, NBA, NBA, Rakuten, sports marketing, sports media

By Barry Janoff

October 10, 2017: Last month, international Internet services provider Rakuten made its first inroad into the NBA, signing a three-year jersey-patch and marketing deal with the Golden State Warriors valued at $60 million.

Rakuten is now all-in with the NBA, signing a multi-year pact to become a global marketing partner with the league and the league’s exclusive distribution partner in Japan for all live NBA games.

The NBA said this would be its "most comprehensive media partnership in Japan" as well as Rakuten’s first alliance with a North American sports league.

The NBA said the partnership would help to continue to build its presence in Japan, which dates back to games and programming on-air there since the 1988-89 season.

Financial terms of the partnership were not shared, but its value was put in excess of $200 million by industry analysts.

“Rakuten is one of the world’s most innovative companies and an ideal partner for the NBA,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.  "Our new relationship with Rakuten speaks to the appetite that our passionate 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.”

According to the NBA, the global marketing partnership enables Rakuten to create NBA and team zones and sell select NBA and team merchandise on its e-commerce channels worldwide.

That would include Rakuten Ichiba in Japan and Ebates, a membership-based online cash-back site in the U.S. 
 
In addition, Rakuten Viber, Rakuten’s instant messaging platform, "becomes an official platform for the NBA and its teams, providing its 900 million-plus users with access to league content."

This season, Rakuten will offer NBA League Pass, the league’s premium live game subscription service, exclusively to Rakuten members in Japan through NBA.com, the NBA App and for purchase through Rakuten’s VOD service, Rakuten TV.

NBA League Pass would enable customers in Japan to watch all NBA games including pre-season, regular-season and playoffs games, NBA All-Star, NBA Conference Finals and The Finals, in addition to other exclusive programming. 
 
Rakuten will also offer a subscription package on Rakuten TV, providing fans with access to nine games a week, one game per weekday and two games each on Saturdays and Sundays.

"Our new relationship with Rakuten speaks to the appetite that our passionate fans in Japan have for live NBA games and content."

According to Hiroshi  Mikitani, founder and CEO for Rakuten, “We are very excited to partner with the NBA to bring all the action of the world’s top basketball league to fans in Japan.

“As we have recently announced that we are proud partners of the Golden State Warriors, the NBA’s reigning champions, it is an honor to expand our contributions to the global growth and development of basketball with this NBA partnership," said Mikitani.

Founded in Tokyo in 1997, Rakuten's services reach more than 1 billion people. The company’s North American headquarters are in San Francisco.

This is the company’s second alliance this year with a sports franchise that has global reach. In July 2017, Rakuten became the main global partner, jersey-front sponsor and official innovation and entertainment partner for FC Barcelona.

The NBA's presence in Japan includes officially licensed league merchandise available at more than 180 Xebio stores nationwide.

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

Warriors Patch Into Movement, Sign $60M Jersey Deal With Rakuten

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