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Volume 25 No. 25
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NBA 2K's Brendan Donohue Says League Already In Expansion Talks For Second Season

NBA 2K League Managing Dir Brendan Donohue on Thursday said the 17-team league is in discussions with three to five more NBA franchises about joining the video game circuit for its second season in ’19. The inaugural regular season starts next May, preceded by player tryouts in February and a draft in March, Donohue said during an interview at the inaugural Lagardere Sports esports Rising conference. Eighty-five players from around the world will make up the league, Donohue said, competing as their own avatars on respective NBA teams. The 2K league decided to go that route to level out the competition. “There will be no LeBron against Steph,” Donohue said. NBA owners backing the 2K league include the Wizards’ Ted Leonsis and 76ers’ Josh Harris, among others, and Donohue said their support has been important to the success in generating early interest in the fledgling league. “A lot of our owners led us to this, a lot of them were involved in esports before this league ever came up,” Donohue said. “They pushed us to this.” Donohue has previous job experience working for NBA TMBO, and said the 2K league will lean on the basketball league for advice in certain areas. But that does not mean it won’t have its own unique business model. “It would be a mistake if we took the NBA’s business model and just placed it on top of esports,” he said. “We’re very self-aware and there are a lot of things we bring to the table that are beneficial.”

PARTNER UP: Donohue said games are “definitely going to be broadcast, it’s just a question of where.” He expects a decision on that soon. The league’s draft also will be a public event and decisions on distribution are still being determined. In terms of sponsorship for the league, Donohue said it opens up doors for both the esports organization, as well as the basketball league. He said some of the 2K sponsors, which have not been revealed, “are actually going to be new to the NBA.” Donohue: “It really kind of speaks to the opportunity the league presents.”

For more coverage of the business of esports, visit our partners, esportsobserver.com.