It was reported this week that Rakuten will become the official broadcast partner for live NBA games in the Japanese market via NAB League Pass, the NAB App and via Rakuten TV.
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The multi-year deal is reportedly worth US$225 million and incorporates a marketing partnership, which allows Rakuten to sell select NBA and NBA team merchandise on its global online shopping channels such as Rakuten Ichiba in Japan and Ebates, its U.S. online membership-based cash-back site. Rakuten’s messaging app, Viber will also become an official platform of the NBA allowing its 920 million users to access NBA league content.
Rakuten is already a jersey patch sponsor for the current NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors (worth US$20 million per year over 3 years) as well as FC Barcelona, which it paid US$235 million for multiple years.
As the world’s first online marketplace established in 1997, Rakuten is Japan’s largest online marketplace and owns other businesses in e-commerce, fintech, social media and other digital content.
Along with investments offshore, Rakuten has invested in marketing partnerships with sports teams to improve its global branding and access offshore markets such as Spain and North America, where it hopes to replicate its successful experience domestically with its sponsorship of the Rakuten Golden Eagles baseball team.