By: Kylan Watson
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Take-Two, the creators of the NBA 2K video game franchise, are creating an Electronic Sports (E-Sports) league. In the new league all teams will be sponsored by an NBA franchise. The new E-Sports league will be called the NBA 2K e League. The NBA 2K e League will start in the fall of 2018. Just in time for the new NBA season. This new move expands the NBA’s reach into an area that is not necessarily associated with mainstream sports and can expand the audience for the game of basketball.
In September 2016, the first NBA team to purchase to dive in to the world of E-Sports was the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers acquired team Dignas and Apex. This was the first time an American sports team purchased an E-sports team. Now the NBA and its teams are creating a league around an already popular game that is based on the NBA. This league will be made up of gamers who play the 2K franchise.
E-Sports is a growing form of entertainment, in 2015 36 million people watched a League of Legends Tournament. E-Sports viewers also viewed more than 360 million hours of content. The NBA and other major sports leagues would be crazy to not see E-Sports as a new form of entertainment. Especially with reports estimating that there are 57 million people over the age of 12, playing E-Sports games in the United States and Canada.
The NBA is one of the most progressive sports leagues in the U.S., the league has an expansive new television deal, and basketball is widely popular not just in America, but all over the world. The NBA is considering putting teams in Europe and China. Expanding into the world of E-Sports is just a continuation of the NBA’s progressive goals. The NFL, NHL, and MLB may want to take notes on what the NBA is doing; this is how an audience is expanded and how a league can open itself up to new ways of gaining revenue. An E-Sports league will not only improve the standing of the NBA and its teams to a new audience. With the NBA diving in to the world of E-Sports this may be the validation of the medium as a sporting event and an authentic form of entertainment.