Japanese electronic and internet company Rakuten has inked a distribution partnership with Lagardère Sports for the J.LEAGUE media rights. As part of the partnership, the J.LEAGUE 2019 season matches will be available for viewing worldwide, excluding selected international territories, via Rakuten’s new sports entertainment platform, Rakuten Sports.
Rakuten is the “Official EC Platform Partner” of the J.LEAGUE and owner of the first league club, Vissel Kobe. Led by the idea of how Rakuten could activate its partnerships and strategic investments with J.LEAGUE and Vissel Kobe most efficiently, Lagardere Sports initiated the partnership by providing Rakuten with a tailor-made concept, the media rights and sustainable activation ideas.
In addition to streaming live matches, Rakuten Sports also offers the original series Iniesta TV, which follows the international soccer star Andrés Iniesta who plays for the Rakuten Group’s J.LEAGUE soccer club, Vissel Kobe, and features exclusive interviews and unique behind-the-scenes footage, available on demand across many devices, including desktop, mobile, and tablet. Rakuten Sports will also introduce new user engagement capabilities that will allow global sports fans to interact with the content while communicating with other sports fans in new, innovative ways.
Makoto Arima, Rakuten Group EVP and president of Rakuten’s media and sports company, said Rakuten believes in the power of sport to transcend language and cultural barriers – a power that connects people and creates communities. He added that Rakuten Sports represents an important part of this mission, and it hopes to contribute to the continued growth of the J.LEAGUE by sharing what the league has to offer with soccer fans around the world.
Nikolaus von Doetinchem, EVP global media, Lagardère Sports said: “As the appetite for compelling sports content available on digital platforms grows, we were excited to come to Rakuten with a customised concept for a new state-of-the-art partnership activation which led to the launch of a new sports entertainment platform for fans.” He added that it is also “a great example” of how media rights can be deployed to engage more fans worldwide in innovative ways.