Traditional sports investing in esports teams is nothing new.
However, these same traditional sports are now attempting to integrate esports elements into their own business models. Integrations have included everything from fan experiences to simple ticket sales gimmicks.
These integrations typically fall into two buckets. Some traditional sports are purely looking at esports as a way to drive ticket sales. Others are in it for the long haul and want to create an organic fit within their league.
Let’s take a look at some integrations from a few major sports in the U.S.
NASCAR recently partnered with 704Games and Esports Arena Drive to bring NASCAR Heat Champions to the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
Esports’ notoriously young demographic is most likely the driving force behind the integration into NASCAR. Especially since the average age of their TV viewers is 58 years old.
Esports is beginning to make its way onto the college basketball scene. Two NCAA basketball conferences – the Horizon League and the Mountain West Conference – are tying esports events into their conference tournaments.
The Horizon League partnered with 313 Presents and Gamer Saloon, creating the Motor City Madness Esports Championships, playing the popular NBA 2K video game. Each of the more than 200 registrants received a ticket to the first day of the Horizon League Conference Tournament to help boost attendance numbers.
On the other hand, the Mountain West Conference showcased two of its own partner schools esports teams, playing three different games – League of Legends, Rocket League and Overwatch. The event was also live-streamed on Twitch on the conference’s esports page.
Recently, the NBA partnered with 2K Sports and Take-Two Interactive to form the NBA 2K League. The league will feature 17 of the 30 NBA teams. Team rosters will consist of six players in which five of them will be on the virtual court at the same time.
One interesting aspect of the NBA 2K League is that teams are not necessarily associated with cities. However, the team names are directly tied to the NBA team names. For example, the Utah Jazz’s esports team is called Jazz Gaming. The direct correlation between the NBA team and the 2K team is there, but the city correlation is not.
Each integration of esports into a traditional sport is different, so it will be interesting to see how everything shakes out as time goes on.
For a deeper dive into these integrations, read the full article on VentureBeat!