Rakuten Inc, a global leader in internet services, on Tuesday announced the launch of Rakuten Sports, a new live streaming and video on demand (VOD) sports entertainment platform to deliver sports content to a global audience.
Rakuten Sports provides viewers with Meiji Yasuda J1 League matches from the 2019 season both live and on demand. The service’s content portfolio, currently centered on soccer, also features 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. Rakuten has partnered with Lagardère Sports, the international media rights distributor of Japan’s professional football league, to distribute 2019 season J.League matches to fans in more than 140 countries and regions worldwide, excluding Japan and select regions.*1 The new service is designed to appeal to soccer fans in Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and other countries in Southeast Asia, where the popularity of the sport is on the rise and the J.League’s fan base is steadily growing.
“Rakuten believes in the power of sport to transcend language and cultural barriers – a power that connects people and creates communities,” said Makoto Arima, Rakuten Group Executive Vice President, Chief Revenue Officer and President of Rakuten’s Media & Sports Company. “We are delighted to deliver the joy of sports to people around the world, which is why Rakuten has worked alongside our partners to bring a diverse lineup of sports initiatives to life. Rakuten Sports represents an important part of this mission. We hope to contribute to the continued growth of the J.League by sharing what the league has to offer with soccer fans around the world."
Masaaki Kimura, Senior Managing Director of the J.League (Japan Professional Football League) said, "It is our genuine pleasure to hear that Rakuten Sports will distribute Meiji Yasuda J1 League matches worldwide via their platform in the 2019 season. In addition to the international superstars like Andrés Iniesta and Fernando Torres playing in the league, we feel the growing global interest towards our league. We hope to have a positive synergy with Rakuten Sports and make the league become more attractive for all sports fans around the world to enjoy."
In addition to soccer, Rakuten Sports plans to add to its offerings by introducing basketball, table tennis and other sports in the future. Going forward, the sports entertainment platform also plans to 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. Rakuten aims to contribute to the further empowerment of the global sports community by distributing sports-based content that appeals to fans around the world.
***1 J.League games are viewable worldwide, except in the following countries and regions: Algeria, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chad, China, Croatia, Djibouti, Egypt, Macedonia, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Macao, Mauritania, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Republic of Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Korea, South Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United States and Yemen. Iniesta TV is viewable worldwide (internet access required).
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