17 NBA teams to participate in NBA 2K League

The NBA announced that 17 of the 30 teams will participate in the forthcoming NBA 2K League coming in 2018.

The league is a joint project with the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software.  The NBA teams that are participating have agreed to a three year deal where each team will pay on average $250,000 per year.

The upcoming eLeague will be the first time one of the major sports leagues have directly collaborated to establish an eLeague of its own.

The investment in eSports shows the growing reach of the gaming community as well as the recognition that the sport will attract a younger demographic.

With the NBA involvement, it is likely that we’ll see more leagues collaborating with video game makers.

Twitter announces new live streaming sports deals

Twitter announced a number of new live streaming sports deals including the WNBA, PGA, MLB and collegiate games. The company lost out on a deal for Thursday Night NFL games to Amazon.com and is bolstering its efforts with more live streaming and content.  Amazon.com paid 10 times the amount that Twitter paid last year.

The company announced original content deals along with the live streaming at a Digital Content NewFronts Presentation.

The strategy seeks to bring more revenue to the company which is looking to monetize its platform.

The live streaming deals bring up the issue of the enforcement of the copyright as with those using Periscope to freely air sports content.  While this might be an ancillary issue at this time, with upgrades to technology this will come into question later down the road.

Vegas expanding to cater to esports patrons

The Wall Street Journal reports that the MGM Resorts in Las Vegas is turning a former nightclub at its Luxor Hotel and Casino into a permanent venue in hosting esports contests.  The restructure should be done by next year according to the company.

The move is a nod to attract younger visitors to Vegas at a time with “subdued growth.”

Gambling on the Las Vegas Strip is down 7% since 2007.

With the average esports fan between 21 and 35 years old, the move to attract younger people to Vegas hopes to spur growth for the gambling industry.  Certainly, younger adults have more disposable income due to a lack of a mortgage or children.  Esports is a niche industry that is trending upwards.

University of Utah announces eSports team sponsored by school

The University of Utah announced that its forming a “Varsity ESports” team through its Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) video game development program.  It is starting with League of Legends as its first game with additional games in the offing.  It’s the first eSports program in the Power Five conferences.

The EAE program has been ranked the No. 1 video game design program in the nation.

There are multiple eSports teams sponsored by college gaming clubs across the U.S. but this is the first of its kind where a university department is sponsoring a team.

According to Bloomberg, gamers on the Utah’s League of Legends team will receive partial scholarships at first with a long-term plan of expanding to more games and monetizing the effort through marketing and sponsorship deals that will lead to full scholarships.

This is a sign that eSports is being considered as more than a club sport on college campuses.  Certainly the opportunity to monetize the endeavor is a reason for the push.  With conferences seeking content for its cable networks and sponsors looking to market to a young demo, eSports is gaining traction.

MLS Commissioner talks Facebook deal and opens up regarding regulated gambling

As Major League Soccer opened its season earlier this month and with it came news from MLS Commissioner Don Garber that he would not be opposed to legalized gambling.

Speaking at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Geekwire was able to catch up with him.  Garber spoke at Geekwire’s Sports Tech Summit last summer.

Via Geekwire:

“We have a project going on now to really dig in deeply and understand it. I’ll be the third commissioner (along with NBA’s Adam Silver and MLB’s Rob Manfred) in and say I’m very open to understanding how we can get more engaged in this market in a way that I think if done properly, can be regulated and managed and controlled. I’ll join the chorus of saying it’s time to bring it out of the dark ages. We’re doing what we can to figure out how to manage that effectively.”

In addition to this news that the MLS will be open to hearing about the possiblility of regulated gambling of its sports, he announced a Facebook streaming deal which will expand its reach across an untapped platform.  The MLS will be the first league with an extended package on Facebook.

Embracing new ideas and technology are two characteristics new to leagues.  The opportunity to engage with as many fans as possible is key as well as monetizing them.

College baseball players ruled ineligible for participating in fantasy football

ESPN reports that 5 Richmond University baseball players have been ruled ineligible by the NCAA due to their involvement in fantasy sports.

The university, through the athletic department, decline to offer further comment.

Per ESPN, the NCAA considers fantasy sports contests with an entry fee to be a form of sports wagering and therefore off-limits to student-athletes, regardless of sports.

In the state of Virginia fantasy sports, including Daily Fantasy Sports, are legal.

According to the original report from the Richmond Times Dispatch, the players were involved in Fantasy Football.  However, there is no detail as to whether it was Daily Fantasy Sports are a regular weekly fantasy football league.

While the amounts that the players were playing for were not disclosed, the overarching issue was the players involved in fantasy sports.