The National Basketball Association (NBA) has become the first major U.S. sports league to operate an eSports league by launching “NBA 2K eLeague” in partnership with video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. NBA franchises will be able to form and manage teams that will compete against each other, just as the real teams do, in Take-Two’s popular “NBA 2K” video game starting next year. NBA says all 30 NBA franchises “have expressed interest” in forming teams for the league.
What Brands Need To Do
While professional sports teams and athletes have independently invested in or get involved with eSports teams before, this new league marks the biggest tie-up yet between traditional and digital sports. Over the past few years, eSports has rapidly grown into a significant media segment that is drawing attentions from brands such as Gillette and Audi. Earlier this week, E3, the world’s biggest video game trade convention, announced it will be open to the public for the first time this year, a move that signifies the mainstream status of the industry. And this new NBA-sanctioned league should provide a new channel for brands looking to capture the overlap between video game enthusiasts and basketball fans at a global scale via team sponsorships or, presumably, in-stream ads.
Source: Wall Street Journal
The NBA is bringing its games into virtual reality as the league announced on Thursday it is teaming up with VR production company NextVR to live broadcast at least one game per week in virtual reality. Viewers that wish to watch those VR streams need to purchase a $200 NBA League Pass subscription, as well as a VR headset compatible with NextVR’s content portal. The NBA says there will be no ads in the VR broadcasts, but will eventually offer “branded VR experiences” that viewers can interact with during time-outs or commercial breaks.
What Brands Should Do
The NBA has experimented with live streaming games in VR before, but the viewing experience it offered with its season opener last year left a lot of room for improvement. The league is aiming for a more TV-style broadcast this time around, which will hopefully attract more basketball fans to try out VR viewing. As VR and 360-degree content continue to gain traction among consumers and media owners, brands need to start working with content creators to craft narratives that engage and resonate with their audiences.
The Lab currently has four VR headsets — an Oculus Rift, an HTC Vive, and two Samsung Gear VRs — ready for demos. Virtual reality is something that has to be experienced to be understood, so come by the Lab and ask for a VR demo to get a hands-on experience and figure out how your brand can use it to excite and engage with consumers.
Twitter continued its quest for more live sports content as it struck a deal with the NBA to broadcast exclusive live content on its platform. It is important to note that the two “live original programs” that Twitter will be getting from the NBA will not include actual game broadcasts. As part of the deal, Twitter will also double the number of ad-supported NBA highlights it posts to Twitter and Vine. Twitter reportedly splits the ad revenue from those highlights with the NBA. Last week, Twitter signed a deal with Pac-12 Networks to live stream over 150 collegiate sports events during the upcoming 2016-2017 season.
What Brands Need To Do
As Twitter continues to buff up its live video content with a heavy focus on live sports, it opens up more opportunities for brands, especially those in sports, activewear, and fitness, to reach their target audiences on social channels. Agreeing to split ad revenue with content providers, Twitter’s ad-friendly approach toward live streaming should be taken into consideration as brands seek to connect with an online audience that may be difficult to reach via traditional media buys.
Verizon is adding NBA content to the lineup of its streaming service Go90, as the telecom giant inks a multi-year marketing and content deal with the basketball league. This pact will grant Go90 users access to some live games as well as highlights and original NBA programming. Moreover, viewers will be able to buy individual games via NBA’s “League Pass” programming with Go90’s a la carte option.
What Brands Need To Do
As we wrote when Verizon launched Go90 this summer, Verizon stands to offer brands strong targeting tools on Go90’s ad-supported platform by combining its vast amount of consumer data with the ad tech it acquired from AOL. By adding premium content such as live sports to its platform, Go90 should be able to draw an audience sizable enough to warrant ad buying. Therefore, brands need to be mindful of the great advertising potential it presents.
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