The National Basketball Association’s entrance into esports next year has created a big buzz in the esports world and even generated some mainstream media attention recently.
But the real question is, do the NBA, the esports industry and, most importantly, the fans benefit from this new league?
In my opinion, the answer is a resounding “yes” for all concerned.
The challenge of every sport is to attract younger fans to replace fans at the other end of the age spectrum. For the NBA, its new esports league formally welcomes a younger audience to its world to help achieve that goal.
The NBA has among the youngest fan bases of any of the mainstream professional sports in the United States, which already makes it a great fit to enter the world of esports.
According to Nielsen, in 2014, 43 percent of the NBA audience was under 35 years of age, but the 18-34 age group watched the least amount of time of NBA games on TV. Nielsen also estimates that 61 percent of esports fans are millennials and 39 percent of esports fans are also NBA fans.
Based on these statistics, it’s highly likely that younger esports fans will make their way to the NBA and stay.
But why should the esports industry care that the NBA is looking to add younger fans through esports? The answer is credibility.
As esports continues to grow at a rapid pace, having affiliations with top-tier brands like the NBA adds credibility to the sport. This continues to solidify esports as a mainstay in the future.
The credibility of the NBA associating itself with esports will garner the industry more mainstream media attention, which in turn will lead to additional sponsorship opportunities across the entire esports industry.
With the NBA’s marketing power behind its esports league, massive amounts of new esports content will be created, which will be a huge win for fans. For every sport, content is king, and the more content sports create for fans, the greater the commercial opportunity.
Live NBA players can only play so many games in the season. However, imagine how many additional games can be created in the virtual world of esports with an audience hungry for more professional basketball. The NBA and its teams just created a library of content for fans without the risk of one blown ACL.
As the first esports league to be operated by one of the major pro sports leagues in the United States, the NBA 2K eLeague is setup for success for all parties involved.