This week the NBA completed a series of preseason games between the Warriors and Timberwolves in China, and the league plans to continue expanding its presence in Asia through a partnership with Rakuten, Inc. The exact terms of the multi-year contract have not yet been announced, but USA Today reported the deal is expected to be worth $225 million.
Rakuten, an internet company founded in Tokyo, currently distributes content to over 1 billion people globally. The new partnership will allow Rakuten to offer NBA League Pass to its customers in Japan. The subscription service will provide games via NBA.com, the NBA app, and Rakuten TV, a video-on-demand streaming service. Rakuten will also be able to sell a select amount of NBA merchandise to its customers through its global e-commerce platforms.
The partnership was announced Tuesday morning in Tokyo during a press conference with NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, and Rakuten CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani. The NBA commissioner stated the following
“Rakuten is one of the world’s most innovative companies and an ideal partner for the NBA.” Silver continued, “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.”
Last month, Rakuten also announced a three-year $20 million partnership with the Golden State Warriors to sponsor their jerseys. The 2017-18 season is the first of a three year trial period for NBA teams to generate additional revenue by adding sponsorship logos to their uniforms. Currently, 14 teams have signed deals, with the $20 million deal for the Warriors being the most lucrative among NBA teams.