The National Basketball Association's new professional video-game league has signed a multiyear broadcast contract with Twitch, the streaming service owned by Amazon.
The NBA 2K League, a joint venture with Take-Two Interactive Software, will live-stream all its video basketball games free through Twitch, the NBA said in a statement Wednesday. That's as many as 199 games throughout the season, including tournaments, playoffs and the finals. Games will also be free on demand after their conclusion.
Twitch, which has 15 million daily active users, will have exclusive broadcast rights in the 2018 season. Terms of the deal weren't announced.
The NBA was the first major U.S. league to launch its own esports venture, capitalizing on the mushrooming popularity of competitive video games. At the NBA 2K League draft this month in New York, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver emphasized that the esports endeavor is being treated as a member of the NBA family, alongside the WNBA and the development league, known as the G League.
"We'll be welcoming a new generation of athletes, of NBA players, into this league," Silver told reporters at Madison Square Garden. "That sense of renewal, that sort of sense of the birthing of the whole process, is what makes us excited."
Seventeen of the NBA's 30 franchises, including the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors, signed up for the inaugural season of the league, which starts May 1. Each team drafted six players, who will compete as unique players in five-on-five games. Gamers are paid at least $32,000 (more than the G League minimum this season) plus prize winnings, health insurance, housing and a retirement plan.
This is the second major partnership between Twitch and an NBA-owned league. In December, the G League agreed to stream up to six games a week on Twitch. Those games feature esports-like broadcast tools—including statistic overlays, a loyalty program to reward viewers and streaming options for Twitch personalities—all aimed at younger viewers.
-- Bloomberg News