SoftBank invests in future of Japanese basketball

Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank has agreed to become the main commercial partner of the B. League in a deal which grants it media rights to the new top division of domestic basketball.

Terms of the agreement with the Japan Professional Basketball League were not officially disclosed, but it will begin with the inaugural 2016-17 season due to commence in September.

The Japan Times newspaper said SoftBank has agreed to invest around ¥12bn (€96.3m/$106.1m) in the league over the next four years.

Softbank founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son said SoftBank would stream all first and second division games via computers, tablets and smartphones on a subscription basis. He added that although SoftBank would hold exclusive broadcast rights, it would share them with television broadcasters “if they are supportive of promoting the game”.

The B. League has been formed following a period of reform in Japanese basketball after the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) suspended the Japan Basketball Association in late 2014. Fiba suspended the JBA amid a number of issues, including a dispute between the country’s competing domestic leagues. However, the suspension was lifted in August.