International sports broadcaster Eleven Sports is launching in Japan – its 11th market – on Saturday.
Its OTT service, which will be available for free via PC or smartphone, will begin with coverage of Japanese baseball. It will stream around 500 live games from Japan’s minor league baseball competitions, the Eastern and Western League, between March and October 2019. The first match shown will be between Chiba Lotte Marines and Saitama Seibu Lions.
Eleven struck independent rights agreements with seven of the 12 minor league teams: Orix Buffaloes, Saitama Seibu Lions, Chiba Lotte Marines, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Hanshin Tigers, Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and Yokohama DeNA Baystars.
Though some games from Japan’s minor leagues have been broadcast before, this is the first time the competitions have been broadcast at scale, according to Eleven Sports. The broadcaster will also carry highlights, match reports and news packages related to the Eastern and Western Leagues.
Live coverage from five of the seven teams with which Eleven has struck an agreement will be produced by easyprod, which is also owned by Eleven Sports’ parent company Aser.
Eleven is already available in ten territories – Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Myanmar, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Taiwan, the UK and Ireland and the US – with a mixture of OTT and television broadcasts available. It has recently faced challenges in the UK market, after IMG cancelled its deal to show the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the country.