Fans of the NBA around the world can enjoy the game because of the continued efforts of Commissioner Adam Silver. The league recently diverted its attention to growing the brand in Japan. Japanese tech company Rakuten inked a jersey patch deal with the Golden State Warriors in August and are now looking to get in the distribution business.
According to USA Today Sports, the deal worth about $225 million, will help Japan consume as much of the NBA as they desire. Rakuten will function as a significant provider of NBA games in Japan while also playing a role in the league’ marketing strategies.
Following from Sam Amick of USA Today:
Rakuten, which has more than 900 million users and has been in the top 30 of Forbes’ “Most Innovative Companies” since 2012, will not only become the NBA’s exclusive distribution partner in Japan for all live games, but also joins the league’s list of global marketing partners. This marks the NBA’s most comprehensive media partnership yet in Japan, where fans will watch games through NBA.com, the NBA App and Rakuten TV by way of NBA League Pass (including the All-Star game, playoff games, the conference finals and the NBA Finals). As part of the marketing component of the deal, Rakuten will sell select NBA and team merchandise globally on its e-commerce channels.
Silver in a statement announcing the deal expressed his excitement for things to come,
“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.”
This new partnership is the latest step toward Silver trying to grow the league on a global scale. Kobe Bryant teamed up with the league to build a basketball academy in China to help facilitate a grassroots growth in the country.
According to Amick, Rakuten’s deal with the NBA is the first they have had with North American Sports. Rakuten currently has a deal with soccer club FC Barcelona.