With continued efforts to expand the NBA internationally, the league announced on Monday a multiyear partnership with Japanese tech company Rakuten to become the official broadcast partner for live games in Japan.
The NBA will make $225 million during the partnership, but it's not clear how long the partnership will be, according to a report from USA Today. Rakuten has more than 900 million users and will also join the league's list of global marketing partners. Fans will be able to watch games through NBA.com, the NBA App and Rakuten TV through the NBA League Pass.
“Rakuten is one of the world’s most innovative companies and an ideal partner for the NBA,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a release. “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.”
Rakuten made a jersey patch advertising deal with the Warriors in September that cost a reported $20 million annually, but this will be the first deal the company has done with a North American sports league.
“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,” said Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, founder and CEO of Rakuten. “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.”
The NBA already has a presence in Japan as the first regular-season game outside of North America was played in Tokyo in 1990, but this partnership will give Japanese fans access to more games while the league continues to expand its international reach.