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DAZN acquires rights for Nippon Professional Baseball pre-season

"Harryhawk" Mascot of Baseball teamvFukuoka Softbank Hawks is seen during the J.League J1 match between Sagan Tosu and Vegalta Sendai at Best Amenity Stadium on July 22, 2018 in Tosu, Saga, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

Sports streaming service DAZN has acquired rights in Japan for Nippon Professional Baseball pre-season practice matches ahead of the 2020 season start on June 19.

DAZN will show live coverage of four to six pre-season matches each practice match day, starting on June 2 and running until June 16.

The OTT platform’s rights cover the home matches for the 11 NPB teams that it also has deals with for regular-season matches. NPB teams sell their media rights individually, rather than as a collective. The Hiroshima Toyo Carp is the only NPB team DAZN does not hold rights for.

Pre-season matches are usually included in DAZN’s main rights deals with the teams, but this summer’s matches were not due to the extraordinary schedule imposed by the Covid-19 shutdown.

As well as DAZN, the NPB teams also have media rights deals with Japanese pay-television and free-to-air broadcasters. Some of these broadcasters may also show pre-season matches.

DAZN will also be showing on-demand content including a ‘DAZN Diaries’ interview with Yomiuri Giants head coach Tatsunori Hara, a documentary series focusing on the Yomiuri Giants, and baseball-themed anime videos.

DAZN is currently offering a one-month free trial subscription to customers in the market.

DAZN began showing the NPB in Japan in 2018, when it took over the SportsNavi Live OTT service from investment group SoftBank.