NBA anticipates more than half the league will participate in NBA2K eSports league

The NBA made a big announcement in its NBA2K eSports league set to debut in 2018. And the league expects ample participation from NBA franchises.

The NBA made a huge announcement Tuesday, naming Brendan Donohue the Managing Director for the NBA2K eSports league set to begin in 2018.

Donohue, who has ample experience in the marketing wing for the NBA, will bring his experience working with team personnel to the NBA’s burgeoning eLeague experiment. The NBA will become the first professional sports league to have its own eLeague teams.

NBA2K certainly seems like the perfect partnership for the NBA to jump into the eSports arena. And with the rise in eSports — and viewership for eSports — the NBA is making a natural extension of its brand.

The surprising part is how much NBA teams are investing in this too. The NBA announced more than half the NBA’s franchises are expected to field a team when the eLeague tips off next year. They originally anticipated 8-12 teams participating.

So far, the Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors have announced intentions to field a team. The Washington Wizards also reportedly will have a team.

A source tells Orlando Magic Daily the Orlando Magic also plan to field a team for the first year of the NBA2K eSports league.

Donohue’s hire is certainly one that was done to work and build on the relationships he has with teams. He admitted to Mark J. Burns of SportsTechie said he is still learning some of the finer points of running an eSports league. But he is confident he can fill his staff with those experienced in this growing industry.

Donohue said he sees lots of opportunities for the league to grow its business in a natural way. NBA2K is already a well-regarded and popular video game, holding its own pro-am tournaments to find the best players and teams.

Now the NBA in association with NBA2K’s developer, Take Two, is trying to make a formal league.

Laugh at the idea of a video game league if you must, but eSports is one of the fastest growing industries in the sports world.

The League of Legends final several years ago sold out Staples Center. Colleges are offering athletic scholarships for eLeague games and the Big Ten Network is airing contests between member conferences. ESPN has aired eLeague games for several years now. And if you have been watching the NBA Playoffs, TNT has been advertising its airing of the Street Fighter V tournament, including a celebrity tournament featuring Shaquille O’Neal.

This is a natural outgrowth for the NBA to grow its business and enter this sphere. With the formal support from NBA franchises, the league will find plenty of support. It should also find plenty of eyeballs from basketball and NBA2K fans.

The NBA is set to formally announce the official teams participating in the league in the coming weeks. And the league will begin to play in 2018.

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