Golden State Warriors sign lucrative jersey deal with Rakuten

The Golden State Warriors have become the latest NBA basketball franchise to secure a jersey sponsor, sealing a deal with Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten that is reportedly nearly double the value of the next biggest agreement in the North American league.

Rakuten, whose North American headquarters are situated in San Francisco, has agreed a three-year contract worth $20m (€16.8m) per season, according to ESPN.com, which added this is nearly twice the value of the deal sealed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Rakuten badge will be featured on all of Golden State’s practice, regular, post-season and Summer League uniforms.

In what is a multi-faceted partnership, Rakuten has also sealed naming rights to the team’s practice facility, which will be rechristened the Rakuten Performance Center, along with six other designations, which each last longer than three years.

Rakuten will be the team's official e-commerce, video on demand and affiliate marketing partner. Its cash back site ebates will become the team's official shopping rewards partner, its messaging service Rakuten Viber will be official instant messaging and calling app, while its Rakuten Kobo will be the official e-reader partner.

“We actually had multiple finalists,” Warriors chief marketing officer Chip Bowers told ESPN. “This was not the biggest deal that we were offered. We saw an opportunity, given the visibility we were receiving. So we felt in order to grow our global vision, we had to be aligned with a global brand.”

The Warriors agreement is the second major sports sponsorship Rakuten has sealed in recent months. In November, Rakuten signed a four-year deal, covering the 2017-18 to 2020-21 seasons, to become the main global sponsor of Spanish LaLiga football club Barcelona and to appear on the front of the first team’s shirt. The deal will be worth a basic €55m ($60.7m) per season, with an option to extend for a fifth year.

“We want to be a household name like Google and Facebook,” Rakuten founder and chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani said. “Our partnership in Barcelona has helped us in Spain and the Warriors will certainly be a pillar of getting us there in United States.”

The Warriors become the 14th NBA franchise to sign up a jersey sponsor for the 2017-18 season. The NBA announced in April 2016 that teams would be permitted to agree jersey sponsorship deals as part of a three-year pilot programme spanning the 2017-18 to 2019-20 seasons.