J.League launches digital content hub ahead of new international rights deal
By Jonathan Rest
The J.League, Japan's top soccer league, has teamed up with its official technology partner, the telecoms giant NTT Group, to launch a digital content hub.
The hub, known as 'J.League Furoshiki', will house all the league's digital assets such as video content, still images, and statistical data, including copyrighted game images.
The content can be aggregated and centrally managed for production, editing, supply, and distribution, and will be scaled up for use by other domestic sports and leagues.
NTT, which works closely with DAZN, the over-the-top platform that holds domestic J.League rights in a 10-year, $2-billion deal, said it will continue to introduce its 5G and artificial intelligence technology tools into the league's video shooting, production and editing processes.
The J.League said it aims to use the content produced from Furoshiki as a teaser for international broadcasters ahead of new deals that come into effect in 2020, particularly as Japan is now the home for household names like Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Lukas Podolski. Individual player packages will also be produced for distribution worldwide.
The J. League’s global media rights, outside of Japan, are distributed by the Lagardère Sports agency in a deal that expires at the end of 2019.
The league is in a live rights sales process for 2020 onwards, although Sportcal understands discussions will first take place with Lagardère about a renewal before any formal invitation to tender is issued.The J.League said: "The J.League aims to increase revenues from broadcasting rights under overseas broadcasting rights contracts from 2020 and increase the number of viewers worldwide. One of the pillars of J.League's overseas and Asian strategies is to provide footage that shows the performance of foreign players with their home countries. By using this video to increase opportunities for J.League partner companies and clubs to be recognised overseas through video, we will support their overseas expansion."
Thailand is the big target market for J. League to exploit value in the new rights cycle. Five games per week are presently shown in the country by pay-TV’s TrueVisions, and there is increasing interest in the league there due to the presence of Thai international Chanathip Songkrasin who plays for Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, and is considered one of Asia’s top talents.According to data from the J.League, Sapporo matches are the second most-watched soccer games in Thailand after England's Premier League.