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The NBA is going to launch NBA 2K League, signalling its entry into the expanding world of Esports.
Television ratings have soared in recent years to watch LeBron James, the rise of the Warriors, and a thrilling action of high-flying dunkers and long-range snipers. But will fans really race to their computers to watch other people sitting around playing video games?
“I think the esports universe is answering that question for us,” NBA 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue said.” People are completely, 100 percent engaged with watching others play games. I think Twitch is walking proof of that, and all the success these other games have had. The esports space has doubled in size the last three years and every prediction is it’s going to double in size the next three years, so I think we’re almost beyond that question a little bit.”
So do NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and many of his owners. Donohue said the league hoped to get eight to 12 teams for its inaugural season and instead got 17, with enough interest remaining that he expects rapid expansion. Some owners of NBA clubs were already invested in popular esports such as Overwatch and League of Legends and had seen their arenas host well-attended competitions even before the league created the first official esports league operated by a U.S. professional sports league.
“Esports are big and getting bigger. 2K is a way to connect not only with gamers, but gamer fans and to turn both into NBA and Mavs fans and vice versa,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wrote in an email. “We think we can take traditional NBA fans, 2K fans and strengthen the bond they have to the NBA.”
Each of the major sports leagues is looking to claim its share of what Newzoo, the market research firm, reports will be a $1 billion industry by 2019.
The opening day of the Tipoff tournament had some excitement, highlighted by two 40-point performances by Cavs Legion GC’s Brandon Caicedo, who plays under the handle Hood. (The players are playing as themselves, not the guys on the NBA’s Cavaliers.) But the league was already encouraged by the response even before the games began.
Source: European Gaming Media and Events