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WWE announces deal to live stream Raw and SmackDown in Japan for first time ever

While it’s not a broadcast television contract, the partnership WWE announced earlier today (April 10, 2017) to live stream Raw and SmackDown with Japanese commentary in Japan seems like a big deal. The timing is good, considering they just brought Shinsuke Nakamura to SmackDown. And this is another high-profile move into the Asian market following signing numerous Chinese talents to developmental deals and ahead of a rumored regional tournament similar to the United Kingdom one which ran on WWE Network this past January.

On the other hand, their partner, DAZN, is a new player in Japan and their highest profile launch - for J. League soccer - was a rocky one. The Network is already available in Japan, but with the same content as is available elsewhere - which is why first-run Raw and SmackDown is noteworthy.

Still, this is definitely a deal worth watching as part of WWE’s global expansion.

WWE® and DAZN Announce Exclusive Multi-Year Agreement in Japan

TOKYO & STAMFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- WWE (NYSE:WWE) and DAZN today announced that WWE’s flagship programs Raw® and SmackDown® will be available live in Japan with Japanese commentary for the first time ever, beginning tomorrow at 9AM on DAZN.

Fans will be able to live stream all three hours of Raw and two hours of SmackDown exclusively on DAZN. Raw will be available live every week on Tuesdays at 9AM, while SmackDown will be available live every week on Wednesdays at 9AM. Fans will now be able to follow all the action in real time featuring their favorite WWE Superstars, including Japan’s own Shinsuke Nakamura™. Raw and SmackDown will also be available via video on demand for DAZN customers.

In addition, fans will soon be able to watch other WWE featured content and highlight shows on DAZN, including WWE Experience®, WWE Bottomline®, and WWE This Week™(release dates of these shows to be announced). Fans can download the DAZN App and watch WWE content on Smart TVs, smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles, as well as via Chromecast on iOS and Android.

“We’re really excited to add WWE to our portfolio in Japan,” said John Gleasure, Chief Commercial Officer of DAZN. “Raw and SmackDown complement and strengthen our overall international sport offering, plus the live and non-live content available for fans to watch works perfectly for our business model.”

“Our new partnership with DAZN will enable WWE to engage with fans in Japan like never before,” said Ed Wells, WWE Executive Vice President, International. “DAZN will provide WWE fans with a destination to watch Raw and SmackDown live and in Japanese on the device of their choice and follow WWE Superstar Shinsuke Nakamura as he continues his WWE journey.”

WWE joins DAZN’s strong portfolio of international sports which includes La Liga, Bundesliga, Major League Baseball, Formula One and UFC.

H/T: Chris Harrington

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