J. League to tap new MENA and Asia audience with weekly live YouTube game
By Jonathan Rest
Japanese soccer's J. League is to stream one game per week from the top division on its YouTube channel across 40 countries in the Middle East and North Africa and Asia, beginning this weekend.
The decision has been taken in partnership with Dentsu, the Japanese advertising giant that is in the first year of a three-year contract to market the league's international media rights, in a bid to broaden exposure.
Beginning with the Vissel Kobe vs Hokkaido Consadole clash at 7pm (JST) tomorrow, the J. League international YouTube channel, managed by SNTV, the sports video news agency co-owned by IMG and the Associated Press, will stream the game in the 24 MENA countries and 16 in Asia - India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, East Timor, Philippines, Bhutan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Maldives, Mongolia and Laos.
Thailand is not included in the YouTube offering, as there are two J. League broadcast partners in the country in MCOT, the free-to-air terrestrial channel, and digital platform SiamSport.
The J. League is popular in Thailand due to the presence of Thai internationals Chanathip Songkrasin, one of Asia’s leading talents, and goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan, who play for Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, and veteran striker Teerasil Dangda, of Shimizu S-Pulse.
The J.League international YouTube channel, which launched earlier this year, traditionally offers match highlights, post-match interviews, compilations, archive footage, tactical analysis and player profiles.
As well as managing the channel, SNTV holds global news rights to the J. League.
Dentsu’s deal for the J. League excludes Japan, where over-the-top subscription platform DAZN recently extended its long-term deal under amended terms, and China where rights were retained ahead of the 2020 season by sports marketing agency China Sports Media, with games shown on its K-Ball subsidiary.
However, that deal was not exclusive, and, ahead of this weekend, the J. League has broadened its offering in China, signing additional deals with the regional Guangzhou Sports and Tianjin Sports channels, digital platforms Tencent and ByteDance, and Zhejiang Wasu, the IPTV service.
Leading in to the resumption of the 2020 J. League season in early July, after the coronavirus-enforced break, Dentsu had struck a host of new rights deals, including two in Europe, with Sportdigital covering Germany, Switzerland and Austria, and with Sport Klub for Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia.
Other rights-holders are: i-Cable, the pay-TV operator in Hong Kong; Elta, the digital broadcaster in Taiwan; TDM, the free-to-air broadcaster in Macau; Astro, the pay-TV operator in Malaysia and Brunei; telco Optus in Australia; pay-TV network Premier Sports in the UK and Ireland; and The Sports Channel, the cable and satellite sports broadcaster in Israel.