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Volume 25 No. 237
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NBA 2K League Sets June 29 Deadline For '19 Expansion Bids

Viewership for the NBA 2K League has stayed around 5,000 average concurrent viewers

The NBA 2K League has set a June 29 deadline for possible expansion franchises to decide if they want to participate in the '19 season, nearly two months before the first season is over. Seventeen of the 30 NBA teams were charter members of the esports spinoff league that launched May 1, with the remainder declining for a variety of reasons. Some of the organizations that haven’t yet joined the 2K league include big-market teams such as the Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, Bulls and Nets. “I think we’ll get to 30 teams, eventually, if it’s spread out over the next couple years, that’s very realistic,” NBA 2K League Managing Dir Brendan Donohue said. The NBA declined to say if terms had changed since last year, but the first 17 teams paid $750,000 and committed to three years. Viewership for the startup league has stayed around 5,000 average concurrent viewers, according to The Esports Observer Audience Insights, only a fraction of the audience of the top esports games. But Donohue said he has taken heart from a recent rebound in viewership.

REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS: Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick appeared on CNBC's "Power Lunch" yesterday and noted the company is “excited” about the NBA 2K League, though execs "don’t expect any meaningful economic impact yet." He said, "It's helping the brand over time and right now, esports is about a $1 billion market." Analysts believe esports could grow to a $1.5B market in a couple of years, leading Zelnick to say, "We’d like a big chunk of that."

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