Soccer / J. League

J. League makes shift from TV to live streaming in ¥210 billion broadcast deal

Kyodo

J. League on Wednesday announced a 10-year, ¥210 billion broadcasting deal with Britain-based Perform Group, in a historic pivot from live TV to streaming online.

According to J. League, it is the largest broadcasting deal in Japanese sports history. It is also a massive increase on its current contract with Sky Perfect JSAT Corp., which is worth ¥5 billion annually.

The new deal kicks in next year and runs to 2026. It does not cover terrestrial or satellite television.

The deal is also the first sizeable overseas investment in Japanese sports.

“The deal with Perform Group is the first long-term broadcasting rights deal in the history of Japanese sports,” J. League Chairman Mitsuru Murai said.

“We think this underlines our belief that the Japanese sporting industry is a viable content attractive to foreign investment. We also believe this agreement is the first of its kind with a service provider in the rapidly changing world of the internet and mobile phones.”

He added: “This allows for a new way to view sports. People will be able to watch whenever and wherever, for however many times they like.”

Every game of the J. League’s three divisions, including the J1 championship playoffs, will be streamed live on DAZN, Perform Group’s online sports content platform set to launch in Japan this summer.

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. will assist in the installation of wireless internet services at J. League venues.

DAZN is expected to launch a fixed-rate online streaming service. J. League needs to improve the content of each game and cultivate star players if it is to boost the number of subscribers, he said.

“We will strive to generate the value that matches the investment we receive,” Murai said, given the amount of the broadcasting deal.

J. League had been seeking a new broadcasting deal of at least five years worth ¥10 billion annually, with Perform Group at the top of the list. Last year, the league’s broadcasting revenue was a mere ¥5 billion.

It plans to use the money to improve its marketing, build football stadiums and increase its presence throughout Asia.

By comparison, Nippon Professional Baseball has no platform in which the games of all 12 teams in both leagues are available.

The Central League does not have a collective digital media deal. The Pacific League teams’ home games are streamed over the internet and available in several overseas markets, as well as through Pacific League TV.

The new professional basketball league, the B-League, which kicks off in September, signed a five-year, ¥12 billion deal with SoftBank. The carrier will stream every B-League game live on Sportsnavi, its online sports content platform.