On Tuesday, the National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner; Adam Silver, and Rakuten, Inc. CEO, Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani; announced a massive multiyear marketing partnership at the headquarters of the prominent tech company. The partnership will give Rakuten, Inc. the exclusive rights to distribute all NBA live games in Japan and become the global marketing partner. This is the most comprehensive media partnership of the basketball association in Japan. This is also the first partnership for Rakuten, Inc. with a North American sports league.

An exclusive deal with Rakuten, Inc.,

Rakuten, Inc. will have the exclusive rights to distribute all live games to its members in Japan through NBA.com, the NBA application, and Rakuten TV through NBA league pass. This will include all games like All-Star games, playoff games, the conference finals and the NBA finals. The tech company will also join the league’s list of global marketing partners of NBA. Also, Rakuten said that National Basketball Association will give access to over 900 million users of Rakuten Viber as this will become the official instant messaging platform.

According to USA Today, the multiyear exclusive partnership with Rakuten Inc. will be more than $225 million during the life of the contract.

Also, this will not be the first time that Rakuten, Inc. entered into the world of sports as they have reportedly signed a $234 million deal with the Spanish football club, FC Barcelona, in November. The deal will start in the 2017-18 La Liga season through 2020 which they have replaced Qatar Airway for this role. They also have an agreement with the Golden State Warriors to become the official sponsor of the jersey patch of the new Nike uniforms of the last season’s champion team.

Aside from exclusive deals, Rakuten will also have the privilege to choose the team and merchandise to sell through its e-commerce channels.

Rakuten, Inc. history

Rakuten, Inc. is a Japanese electronic commerce and internet company based in Tokyo. It is often referred to as “the Amazon of Japan.” It was founded by Hiroshi Mikitani in 1997.

The B2B2C e-commerce platform Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales. The company operates Japan’s biggest internet bank and third-largest credit card company by transaction value.

According to Adam Silver, "Rakuten is one of the world’s most innovative companies and an ideal partner for the NBA."