The NBA have been attempting to improve their popularity in Asia for some time. With the recent pre-season games between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors in China helping spread the league’s global influence, the NBA are now set to make a huge deal with Japanese tech firm Rakuten.
A report from Sam Amick has suggested that the NBA will make a staggering $225 million from the deal, which see’s Rakuten become the official broadcaster of the NBA in Japan.
Rakuten is estimated to have over 900 million users and is considered to be one of the most innovative companies of the last decade. As well as becoming the NBA’s prime Asian distributor, Rakuten will also become one of the league’s global marketing partners. When the deal is officially unveiled, Japanese fans will have access to games via NBA.com, Rakuten TV, the NBA app, and NBA League Pass – including the play-offs, all-star game, conference finals and NBA finals.
What could this mean for the NBA?
The very first NBA regular-season game to be played overseas was in Tokyo, Japan in 1990. If this new deal with Rakuten drastically increases the league’s popularity in Japan, we could see more regular-season events take place in the country in the near future.