Rakuten to launch sports streaming channel

Andrés Iniesta

Rakuten has made its first foray into live streaming with the launch of Rakuten Sports.

The flagship feature of Rakuten Sports is access to Meiji Yasuda J1 League matches from the 2019 season both live and on demand. The service also features an 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 including China, Canada and the US.

Rakuten says that the target market for the platform is fans of football in Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and other countries in Southeast Asia.

“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 EVP chief revenue officer and president of Rakuten’s media and 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 added: “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.”

Rakuten also said that it intends to expand the platform’s scope with the introduction of basketball, table tennis and other sports in the future.

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