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Dentsu and China Sports Media awarded J.League rights to 2022

Kawasaki Frontale lift J.League Champions Schale on November 10, 2018. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

Dentsu, the Japanese advertising giant heavily involved in sports marketing, has acquired the international rights to the J.League, Japanese football’s top division.

The contract runs from 2020 to 2022 and Dentsu will replace the Lagardère Sports agency in the role.

The international rights distribution contract excludes China, where the exclusive rights have been carved out and awarded to the China Sports Media agency (also until 2022).

Dentsu said today (Tuesday) that the deal represents “an effort to further contribute to its expertise in the sports marketing business”.

In 2014, Dentsu was appointed as the J.League’s marketing partner in a role that entailed the exclusive sale of the league’s sponsorship rights.

Lagardère’s exclusive deal to sell the J.League’s international rights expires at the end of the 2019 season.

Earlier this year, the agency announced a distribution partnership in over 140 countries with Japanese e-commerce and internet company Rakuten. That agreement involved the creation of a live and video-on-demand platform for the J.League, with a particular emphasis on appealing to fans across South East Asia, where the competition’s popularity continues to develop.

Territories excluded in the Rakuten tie-up included the Middle East and North Africa, the Balkan countries, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and USA.

Current international rights-holders to the J.League include DAZN (selected territories), China Sports Media (China), SportKlub (Balkan countries), Hong Kong Cable Television (Hong Kong) and TrueVisions (Thailand).

Under the terms of its rights renewal, K-Ball, the online streaming service owned by China Sports Media subsidiary Win Power, is to show all 306 games from the top-tier J1 League and 462 games from the second-tier J2 League.

Along with being the incumbent rights-holder in China, CSM has worked with the J.League in other areas, launching and operating the league’s official Weibo account.

Other international leagues shown by K-Ball include Korea’s K-League, MLS, Australia’s A-League and the Eredivisie. CSM’s flagship sports rights agreement is its commercial rights agreement with the Chinese Super League, a deal that runs until 2025.