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Rakuten launches dedicated NBA streaming service in Japan

Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten has launched a new streaming service to showcase its coverage of the NBA basketball league in the country.

NBA Rakuten will stream live and on-demand coverage of every NBA game during the 2019-20 NBA season, which gets underway on October 22.

The service will combine the Rakuten NBA Special and other NBA-related content provided by the Rakuten TV video-on-demand service and the NBA League Pass into a single hub.

As well as providing game coverage, NBA Rakuten will give fans access to official stats on teams and players, as well as news, original articles and a live chat service to interact with other users. It will be available as an app and on internet browsers.

The service will also include Oretachi no NBA (Our NBA), a talk show hosted by local personalities. Rakuten said that other programming such as a daily highlights show will be delivered to provide fans with a “multi-layered entertainment experience”.

Rakuten users will be able to choose from four plans: Basic Pass, Team Pass, League Pass and Single Game. To celebrate the launch of the new service, annual subscriptions to the ¥19,800 (€168/$185) yearly League Pass, which offers unlimited viewing of all games, will be available for half price, while the ¥990 monthly Basic Pass, which includes nine or more select games per week during the season, will be available as a free trial for the first month.

Rakuten agreed its multi-year media and marketing partnership with the NBA in 2017 and currently serves as the league’s exclusive distribution partner in Japan for all live games, as well as a global marketing partner of the competition.

The five-year deal, which was reported to be worth more than $225m (€205m), marked the NBA’s most comprehensive media partnership in Japan and Rakuten’s first with a North American sports league.