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One World Sports Gains Exclusive North American Rights to Yomiuri Giants

One World Sports has added Japan’s most successful baseball team, the Yomiuri Giants, to its programming lineup.

Under the deal with Nippon Television Network Corp., the English-language network, which specializes in sports from Asia and Europe, has secured exclusive North American TV and broadband rights for 72 Giants' home games during the 2013 Nippon Professional Baseball season.

Considered to be the New York Yankees of Japan, the Giants, the defending NPB champions, are that nation’s oldest and most popular club and have won 22 league titles overall. According to One World Sports, 10 MLB teams currently carry players from the NPB on their rosters.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but One World Sports, which has distribution deals with Dish Network, Cablevision and Mediacom, plans to deliver three or more Giants' games per week from April 1 through September.  One World Sports is part of the privately held Dallas-headquartered One Media Corp.

Alexander “Sandy” Brown, who has been serving as president and CEO of One World Sports since November, said the programmer plans to present the Giants’ opener live website -- Japan is 14 hours ahead of the East Coast -- and then encore it on the linear channel later that day.

“We’re going to stream the game versus the Hiroshima Carp live and then air it on the network,” said Brown. “We’re still determining the schedule, but we’ll mix and match as the season goes along.”

Currently positioned on international packages with its three affiliates -- Dish launched the service in summer 2011, Cablevision in December and Mediacom last month -- One World Sports, which is ad-supported and said it receives an undisclosed monthly subcriber fee, is in discussions with other carriers.

“We’re happy where we are at this juncture, but job one is to gain more distribution,” said Brown, who most recently helped create and launch the Univision Deportes cable network and drove a 10-year-rights renewal for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League. During his career, Brown has served as managing director for ESPN Asia and ESPN Star Sports; president and CEO of CNBC Asia; president and CEO of Petry Holding and co-COO of Worldspace. He also oversaw international television efforts at the National Basketball Association.

Brown believes the Giants will draw viewers, as well as serve as a key calling card for One World Sports as it tries to expand its carriage roster.

“Any distributor is interested in content that is unique and exclusive,” he said. “We have wide rights with the Giants.”

Somewhere over the course of the season, Dish, CVS and Mediacom subscribers will be able to watch Yomiuri games on via an authentication process.

One World Sports is also contemplating offering the Giants as a stand-alone subscription service, possibly on its sister broadband service, America One Sports, which presents an array of college sports and minor league professional teams. “We’re well-equipped to add more content,” said Brown. “We’re really looking to take the next step and plan on spending a lot of time on cross-promotion.”

One World Sports has a strong position with soccer, airing over 1,000 hours of futbol from Japan’s J League, Australia’s A League, Korea’s K League, the Chinese Football Association Super League, AFC Champions League, and various FIFA World Cup qualifiers. 

The OneAsia golf tour, squash, badminton, table tennis, rugby and drift racing can also be found on One World Sports. Last year, the network aired Carp baseball games and Brown said it might add more Japanese baseball this season.

Debuting in 1934 under the name The Great Japan Tokyo Baseball Club -- renamed in 1936 as the Tokyo Kyojin and, finally, the Yomiuri Giants in 1947 -- the team is perhaps best known for prolific home run hitter Sadaharu Oh, who slugged 868 career round-trippers. The recently retired Hideki Matsui, the 2009 World Series MVP for the Yankees, started his career with Yomiuri.

MLB players who have headed to Japan to play for Yomiuri include: Davey Johnson, currently manager of the Washington Nationals and 2012 National League manager of the year; Yankees outfielder, Roy White; seven-time All-Star Reggie Smith; All-Star pitcher Clyde Wright; Warren Cromartie; and current players John Bowker and Jose Lopez, the former All-Star infielder, who is starting his first season with the Giants this year. 

The Boston Red Sox -- having signed Koji Uehara -- are one of 10 MLB teams with NPB players on their rosters.