Rakuten wants to renew Warriors deal, says Americas CEO

Japanese e-commerce brand Rakuten is looking to extend its partnership with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, according to the company’s head of operations in the Americas.

The current three-year deal, which includes jersey patch rights, is work around $20m (€18m) per year and set to lapse at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Amit Patel, chief executive officer of Rakuten Americas, told the Bloomberg business news network the sponsorship was key to raising Rakuten’s brand awareness.

Brand recognition was “almost zero” when Patel took over US operations in May 2017 , but had risen by 300 per cent among US basketball fans since the second season.

“We certainly want to play the long game,” Patel told Bloomberg. “We continue to evaluate the opportunity and look for ways to extend its life.”

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Patel indicated there was more to come from the partnership partly because the company’s Ebates website – an important part of Rakuten’s US business – was only re-named as Rakuten earlier this year.

The re-branded company will be promoted in season three of the deal.

The NBA All-Star event in Chicago in February, together with in-game activities during the season, will serve as opportunities to convert fans into customers, Patel said.