Japan's J-League to license broadcasting rights to South-East Asian countries in groundbreaking deal

The league's first foreign over-the-air broadcasts will be sent to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, beginning with the 2012 season opener in March
Japan's J-League is wrapping up a groundbreaking deal to begin over-the-air broadcasts to four South-East Asian nations starting with the 2012 season, the country's Asahi newspaper reported on Friday.

Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand will be the first countries to have free access to the league's matches over the air; J-League also broadcasts some matches overseas through satellite and cable, although the profits account for less than one percent of their €120 million yearly earnings.

While the league is providing the broadcasts without charge, in return local broadcasters will agree to give commercial slots and sponsorship opportunities to Japanese companies, who will pay the league a fee.

Starting with the March 10 season opener, the J-League will produce weekly broadcasts, with each country contributing local commentary and analysis. Two matches each month will be broadcast live.

South-East Asia is a developing hotbed of football in the continent, and Japan's profile is considerably high following the performance of players in local leagues and the success of the Japanese national team.

"This is the first time that Japanese sports content has been strategically marketed overseas," an un-named league official told Asahi.

"If the number of broadcasters who want to show J-League increase in the future, we can turn broadcast rights into a profitable business. But first we have to work hard to cultivate our market."