Why are NBA Teams investing in a Video Game?

Recently it has been reported that the Cleveland Cavilers, Golden State Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob, and Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens have been given franchise spots into the North American Legends Championship Series (NA LCS). The Legends Championship Series is the preeminent professional League of Legends esports league, very similar to the likes of the NBA or NFL. Each of these spots cost over $10 million, which only covers the rights to participate in the league.

Official Logo of the NA LCS

So why are these large investors and professionals investing so much into a video game? Esports have captured one of the most illusive generations out there, millennials. According to the Nielsen’s The Esports Playbook, the average esports fan is younger than the average age of broader sports fan by two years. While the average may be just slightly younger than the average sports fan, the average millennial esports fan will watch 10–12 hours of content a week as well an average of 5.7 different esports. This dedication to the industry is something that the NBA has been looking for desperately as they have hit a five year low in viewership, losing over 16 million fans. Its not surprising that they have been scrambling to try and get their brands in front of the younger audiences and using esports to do so.

This is not the only way that the NBA has attempted to penetrate the esports industry, they have recently begun the development of the NBA 2k eLeague. 17 of the NBA’s 30 teams have joined for the inaugural season and will be hiring staff, finding housing and drafting their own roster at an upcoming date. While this is an interesting way to try and branch the NBA and esports, it will be interesting to see how successful this eLeague is. It is set to debut in 2018 and I will be following it closely to see if this is a permanent part of the NBA’s future.

Esports is one of the quickest growing industries out there, and brands investing in it now have the opportunity to capture one of the most illusive groups out there. While throwing money at it may not always be the best for all brands, it will be interesting to see how the future of this industry will impact entertainment as we all know it.

If you are interested in reading more about my thoughts on esports, check out this post and my others on my website.