London, 11 June 2019 – Lagardère Sports, the exclusive media rights distributor of Japan’s professional football league and Rakuten, Inc., a global leader in internet services, today announced a distribution partnership for the J.LEAGUE media rights.

In the 2019 season, J.LEAGUE matches will be available for viewing worldwide excluding selected international territories (see details below), via Rakuten’s new sports entertainment platform – Rakuten Sports (https://sports.rakuten.com/) – to deliver the best-in-class live and on-demand football entertainment to international football fans.

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. Going forward, 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.

“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 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.”

Rakuten is the “Official EC Platform Partner” of the J.LEAGUE and owner of the first league club Vissel Kobe where top stars such as Andrés Iniesta, Lukas Podolski and the recently signed David Villa play.

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.

Nikolaus von Doetinchem, Executive Vice President Global Media, Lagardère Sports said: “The J.LEAGUE is fast becoming one of the most attractive leagues in Asia and features international superstars like Andrés Iniesta, David Villa, Lukas Podolski and Fernando Torres. 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. It’s also a great example of how media rights can be deployed to engage more fans all over the world in innovative ways and  which in this case will grow exposure for the J.LEAGUE internationally and support Rakuten in leveraging their strategic investment in the league”.

Masaaki KIMURA, Senior Managing Director, 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.”

Licensed Territories:

Worldwide excluding Algeria, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chad, China, Croatia, Djibouti, Egypt, FYR 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.

About Rakuten Sports

Rakuten Sports is a global live streaming, video-on-demand and community platform that powers live sports matches from the top leagues and teams from around the world, with exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews and special footage from world-class athletes. Reaching fans across multiple devices, including desktop, mobile, and tablet, Rakuten Sports is a premier sports entertainment service of Rakuten.

About Lagardère Sports

Lagardère Sports is a leading sport marketing agency, with a global network of local experts dedicated to delivering innovative solutions that meet our clients’ needs. We believe sport inspires emotions and passion that are essential to enrich people’s lives and generate powerful collective experiences. At Lagardère Sports, we dedicate our expertise and passion to provide our clients with privileged access to the infinite opportunities of sports. Lagardère Sports is part of Lagardère Sports and Entertainment, a company with more than 1,700 employees worldwide and 50 years of experience.

Press Contact Lagardère Sports:

James Francis
Edelman
+44(0)7812 734 731
Lagardere-se@edelman.com

Press Contact  Rakuten Inc.

Corporate Communications Department
global-pr@mail.rakuten.com
(+81) 50-5817-1104