Rakuten Bows Sports-Themed SVOD Service

Rakuten June 11 announced the launch of Rakuten Sports, a new live and video-on-demand platform.

The service’s content portfolio, currently centered on soccer, also features original series, “Iniesta TV,” which follows international soccer star Andrés Iniesta who plays for Japanese professional soccer team, Vissel Kobe – which is sponsored by Rakuten.

Rakuten has partnered with Lagardère Sports, the international media rights distributor of Japan’s J. League, to distribute 2019 season in more than 140 countries worldwide, excluding Japan.

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The new service is designed to appeal to soccer fans in Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and other countries in Southeast Asia, where the popularity of the sport is on the rise and the J. League’s fan base is mushrooming.

“Rakuten has worked alongside [its] partners to bring a diverse lineup of sports initiatives to life,” Makoto Arima, EVP, chief revenue officer and president of Rakuten’s media & sports company, said in a statement. “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.”

In addition to soccer, Rakuten Sports plans to add basketball, table tennis and other sports in the future. Going forward, the platform also plans to introduce new user engagement capabilities that would enable users to interact with the content while communicating with other fans via social media.

The SVOD service’s parent, e-commerce giant Rakuten, also operates Barcelona-based Rakuten TV, which offers digital retail, rental of Hollywood movies, in addition to subscription streaming video throughout Europe.

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