Can An 'NBA 2K' eSports League Be Successful?

NBA 2K eSports League
The NBA and 2K will join forces and create their own eSports league, set to begin in 2018. NBA

The NBA and 2K announced the formation of an NBA 2K eSports League that will commence in 2018. With the growing popularity of eSports around the world, it only made sense that one of the biggest professional sports leagues in the U.S. jumps on board and start its own eSports racket.

“We believe we have a unique opportunity to develop something truly special for our fans and the young and growing eSports community,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We look forward to combining our best-in-class NBA sports team operators with Take-Two’s competitive gaming expertise to create a brand new league experience.”

But how big could this eSports league be? It was said that eventually, all 30 NBA teams will own their NBA 2K eSports team. The Philadelphia 76ers already owns Team Dignitas with others already beginning their exploration into the eSports landscape. This is something that could be a game changer for eSports as having the marketing and financial wherewithal that comes with being attached to an NBA franchise could help build the product tremendously. Using a regular season format and a bracketed playoff system, the marketing of the league will be important in order to keep interest going for the product through a full NBA-like season.

The power of the NBA television contract may also help the eSports league in its growth and popularity. In 2014, the NBA extended with its television partners (Turner Sports, ESPN/ABC) to the tune of a 9-year/$24 bllion deal. Throw in NBA TV and you have an opportunity to showcase this league on multiple different platforms, aside from just YouTube and Twitch. With ESPN now airing the FIFA 17 Ultimate Team Championship Series, the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” has already stuck their foot in the eSports water. This new league would be easy programming for a network that, depending on how it’s promoted, could draw decent ratings.

The problem that could arise from this partnership is the strain that something of this magnitude could put on the NBA 2K servers. It’s been a rocky start to the new Park After Dark mode that NBA 2K introduced a few months ago to NBA 2K17’s myPark mode. The major problem has been the amount of traffic that 2K was not expecting when the mode took place. Even with the many incidents that took place during the first edition, the second edition of Park After Dark improved, but 2K’s servers was still not up to snuff according to many fans who attempted to play.

The key to the 2K/NBA eSports relationship working will be having everything on the technical side being flawless. Games must go off without a hitch, players cannot be kicked off for odd reasons and more importantly, lag MUST NOT happen. The only way for this league to be successful will be that the eSports League becomes must-see TV and technical issues is not the way to start a new video game league.

The idea of all 30 NBA teams eventually owning a eSports franchise and the idea behind the league is something that was inevitable. While the NFL seemed to be league that would make the jump, the NBA is just as good, if not better, to be the first league to put their name on a league. This could be a great thing for the continued growth of eSports and something that other leagues will be keeping a close eye on.

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