The Golden State Warriors, of North American basketball’s top-tier NBA, have entered into a partner agency agreement in Asian markets with Rakuten Sports. 

That agency, an offshoot of the overall Rakuten Group which is currently the team’s jersey patch sponsor, sees Rakuten Sports become the Warriors’ exclusive international partner in Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore for the “promotion and sale of Warriors partnership packages.”

The agency will work alongside the high-profile San Francisco-based franchise – currently involved in this season’s NBA playoffs, having made it through to the second round – to develop partner-based deals in these markets, the NBA has said.

In terms of the Warriors developing their presence in Japan and the rest of the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, the team is already set to visit that country later this year for the NBA Japan Games 2022, two fixtures against the Washington Wizards in the city of Saitama. That mini-tournament will be presented by Rakuten.

Rakuten has a substantial sporting portfolio in Japan – it operates the top-tier soccer club Vissel Kobe and baseball side Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and holds title sponsorship rights to the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.

It also has a marketing deal in place with the NBA itself, with that agreement struck in 2017 and covering not only the Japan Games but also exclusive live-game digital distribution of NBA fixtures in that country. The Warriors-Wizards pre-season games will be live-streamed in Japan on the NBA Rakuten service and will be available in more than 200 countries and territories on television, digital media, and social media.

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Rakuten initially teamed up with the Warriors as the franchise's jersey partner for the 2017-18 season, meanwhile, and renewed its deal with the franchise last November.

Mike Kitts, executive vice-president of the Golden State Warriors, said: “Through this partnership with Rakuten Sports, we are excited to identify companies in key Asia Pacific markets that share our values … We know that less than one percent of NBA fans worldwide have the opportunity to attend a game in person, but there is a very clear global appetite and fanbase for Golden State Warriors basketball.”

Rahul Kadavakolu, Rakuten’s sports business vice-president, added: “The Warriors are a model for the sport of basketball today, and we are proud to team up again to bring in like-minded brands and partners for the Warriors in Asia.”

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Sparks, of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), have entered into a multi-year partnership with UCLA Health, which comes on board as the franchise’s official healthcare partner.

The UCLA Health logo will feature on the Sparks jersey from this point forward, and the WNBA side joins the other LA sports sides associated with that brand, including the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the UCLA Athletics program. 

In addition to the jersey patch logo placement, UCLA Health will also “have a significant presence” at Sparks home games, and will also be featured on the team’s various social media backdrops.

The UCLA Health medical team will become the Sparks’ official physicians, “providing 24/7 concierge treatment”, the franchise has said.

The partnership will also involve both the Sparks and UCLA collaborating “on initiatives in the LA market to address health inequities.”

Eric Holoman, the managing partner of the Los Angeles Sparks, said: “This is a historic partnership for the LA Sparks organization. UCLA Health will provide the world-class health care that our athletes need to compete at the professional level. They align with our community pillars of women’s empowerment and health and wellness.”

Johnese Spisso, president of UCLA Health, added: “Our collaboration strengthens our commitment to serving greater Los Angeles and allows both our teams to empower women and families throughout the community.”