NBA, Japan's Rakuten set exclusive online distribution deal

Markets Associated Press

The National Basketball Association and Rakuten Inc. have announced a marketing partnership that makes the Japanese online giant the exclusive online distributor in Japan of all live NBA games.

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The partnership, Rakuten's first with a North American professional league, comes as the internet services company expands its involvement in sports.

The two companies on Tuesday said Rakuten will offer the NBA's premium live game subscription service exclusively to Rakuten's members through NBA.com, the NBA app and for purchase through Rakuten TV, the company's video-on-demand service.

"Rakuten is one of the world's most innovative companies and an ideal partner for the NBA," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.

Rakuten Viber, the company's instant messaging platform, will be an official platform for the NBA, giving access to league content to more than 900 million users, Rakuten said.

Last month, the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and Rakuten announced a partnership to include the Rakuten logo on all Warriors jerseys beginning in the 2017-18 NBA season.