04/19/18: The NBA 2K League locked in a media deal with Twitch

CynopsisESPORTS
It’s Thursday April 19, 2018 and this is your weekly early morning Esports briefing.

 


The NBA 2K League announced its first long-term media rights partner, signing with Twitch for a multiyear deal that will include live streams of all NBA 2K League games on the social video service. The league debuts on May 1 and, as the Official Live Streaming Partner of the NBA 2K League, Twitch will provide fans around the world with live streams of up to 199 games throughout the season, including weekly matchups, three in-season tournaments, playoffs and the NBA 2K League Finals. Twitch will also work closely with the league to build Extensions, such as interactive custom overlays, in order to provide new fan engagement opportunities that further enhance the live game viewing experience. Along with presenting live games, Twitch will serve as a Founding Partner of the NBA 2K League.
 
“This is a groundbreaking partnership for the NBA 2K League,” said NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue. “Twitch shares our innovative spirit and commitment to putting the gaming community first, and is the ideal home to provide our passionate 2K, NBA and esports fans around the world with the opportunity to catch all the excitement of our inaugural season.”
 
“From video games to real games, the NBA continues to innovate around basketball when it comes to engaging with the Twitch community,” said Justin Dellario, Head of Esports Programs, Twitch. “By partnering with Twitch for the NBA 2K League, that pioneering spirit will continue to be reflected when we elevate this latest entry to the world of competitive gaming with interactive features and our global stage.”
 
 
COMPETITION and VENUES

 


ESL One locked in a return to NYC, announcing dates for ESL One New York, where eight of the best CS:GO teams from around the world will compete for a $250,000 prize pool and a win marking a notch in the $1 million Intel Grand Slam. This year will see the event once again hit Barclays Center, this time from Sept. 29-30, with group stage matches taking place on Sept. 26-28. “We look forward to bringing ESL One New York and premier competition back to the Barclays Center for another showcase of exciting esports,” said Yvette Martinez-Rea, CEO, ESL North America. “The passion behind the fans will fuel the amazing esports experience ESL looks to create, and we aim to make this event unforgettable.”
 
Turner and IMG’s ELEAGUE debuts its first-ever reality show, ELEAGUE The Challenger: Street Fighter V tomorrow night at 11p on TBS. The series will welcome Grammy-winning recording artist and fighting game enthusiast Lupe Fiasco to the series’ third episode on May 5 on the network, where he will step into a three-on-three team-based miniature tournament and put his Street Fighter skills on display as his team tries to send one of their adversaries to the brink of elimination and end their dream of competing on the ELEAGUE stage.
 
The esports clubs at all eight Ivy League Universities launched the first-ever Ivy Esports Conference (IEC), a new intercollegiate platform to promote “competition, learning and fairness in esports” at the schools with a commissionership that included William Collis (Founder, Genji Esports) and Kevin Mitchell (Professor of Esports, Emerson College) to secure growth partnerships for the IEC. The IEC will kick-off with the first ever tournament for Ivy League esports clubs in October of this year. The IEC will then oversee competitive leagues every semester for titles that include League of Legends, Hearthstone and Overwatch.
 
Gfinity is launching the Gfinity FIFA 18 US Spring Cup. The tournament will serve as an official qualifier within the FIFA 18 Global Series with places in the Global Series Playoffs on offer to the winner of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 tournaments. “We couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with EA SPORTS for our maiden event in the United States,” said Neville Upton, CEO of Gfinity. “The US has massively embraced both football and FIFA over the past few years and we hope to see the winners of the Gfinity Spring Cup go all the way at the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018.”

 

In talent news, the GWENT Challenger Tournament is mining some familiar faces for its upcoming event, which runs April 28-29 from the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine. Hosting duties will be held by Michele Morrow and Jesse Cox.
 
Update: we are now at waitlist only! Cynopsis Esports, in partnership with the Esports Advertising Bureau and Player 2, locked in its final lineup for the 2018 Esports Upfront presentation on April 24 at Yale Club in NYC. Presenters this year will include: Activision Blizzard, ELEAGUE, Counter Logic Gaming, Cloud9, WorldGaming/Collegiate Starleague, ESP Gaming, Press X, TheScore, Stream Hatchet, and Thunder Studios, with the day hosted by Kevin Knocke. Thanks in addition to our partners at ReKTGlobal and eGency Global. If are interested in being on the waitlist, please RSVP now to [email protected] to let him know. See you Tuesday! 
 
 
INSIGHTS

 

Last weekend, the FUT18 Champions Cup Manchester gave viewers a taste of the esports structure that EA has constructed for FIFA. Here are this week’s insights based on our analysis:
  • FIFA viewers consumed 5 Million Hours making it the 7th most consumed channel during the weekend.
  • A majority of viewers tuned in for the Sunday broadcast, generating over half of the Total Viewership during the weekend.
  • 3 of the 5 top emotes used during the streams were generic emotes, (Heart, Smiley Face, Frowny Face), which are more mainstream in nature, compared to the insider emote expressions (LUL, Kappa) often favored by other audiences on Twitch.
Source: Streamhatchet.com
 
 
ACTIVATION

 


Fresh off claiming the crown at the Halo World Champions tournament hosted by MLG in Seattle, Splyce locked in an extension with gaming headset and audio accessory brand Turtle Beach. The will see the brand serve as the official audio partner for their console-based teams, who will continue using Turtle Beach’s Elite Pro line of competitive gaming equipment as the team’s official audio gear of choice.
 
Immortals are doing the Dew, inked a comprehensive partnership with Mountain Dew to make it the team’s first-ever “Official Beverage.” The pair are planning a slate of digital and live activations, including extensive programming on Mountain Dew’s Twitch channel, while players will be integrated into Mountain Dew-branded esports events, including Dew Tour and Mountain Dew League. In addition, Mountain Dew, Immortals and Lionsgate will team up on several premium content initiatives and properties as part of the partnership, including a pilot for an unscripted esports series offering fans a behind-the-scenes look at Immortals and its players.
 
NRG Esports and the San Francisco Shock are teaming up with the University of California, Berkeley to launch a new community center as well as several esports initiatives on the university’s flagship campus, according to ESPN. The university will reportedly renovate and repurpose an academic center of one of its campus residence halls, which will be sponsored by NRG and the Shock, to make the center and feature academic, health and wellness programs for student gamers, as well as host regular events. In addition, UC Berkeley, NRG and the Shock are launching  a student-led women in gaming initiative that will work to promote diversity and provide opportunity for female students with interests in gaming and esports.
 
Activision Blizzard is partnering with Nielsen to measure and value esports brand investments across the company’s slate of leagues and titles. As part of the deal, Nielsen will measure brand exposure in esports events representing a variety of Activision Blizzard titles, event formats and geographic locations based on the same methodology that Nielsen uses to quantify value and benchmark performance for traditional sports rights holders and brands. Nielsen will begin tracking Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League, Overwatch World Cup and Overwatch Contenders this year, as well as Activision’s Call of Duty World League, with plans to expand to other programs in the coming year. “As esports continues to mature and reach its potential as a stand-alone business, we’re determined to lead the way and develop best practices for brands and advertisers,” said Pete Vlastelica, CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. “We’re excited to partner with the most experienced and respected measurement service in Nielsen and continue building on our foundation of the best esports leagues in the world.”
 
Gillette is launching a special promotion on Twitch with players from top North America esports squad Team SoloMid. The “first-of-its-kind” promotion will see fans nationwide receive a crate that includes 250 Twitch Bits with the purchase of select Gillette products. The Bits can then be used directly on Twitch to encourage, support, and “Cheer” on their favorite streamers. The promotion will appear in the form of a custom commerce box that will include a hyperlink to Gillette’s promotional products and appear during TSM Twitch livestreams, including special Gillette-sponsored “The Best A Fan Can Get” broadcasts.
 
Counter Logic Gaming signed Kia Motors as the official automotive partner of its Rocket League team. Kia will serve as the presenting partner of a special episode of the team’s ‘ROADS’ series, in addition to presenting a digital series titled 20 Questions w/ CLG Rocket League.
 
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PLATFORMS

 

With Overwatch League hitting the homestretch of its inaugural season, commissioner Nate Nanzer reaffirmed expansion plans for season two, telling Mail Esports, which include going deep into Europe as company CEO Bobby Kotick addressed the European Club Association General Assembly with a focus on adding teams in countries such as  France, Germany, Spain, the Nordic region, Benelux, and Italy. In addition, a change in scheduling will be in order. “What we’re going to focus on in Season 2 is making sure we’re taking steps to schedule matches, regardless of where they happen, so that they’re at a time that’s better for Europe and Asia,” he said. “The broadcast times have not been great for European fans this year. We’re looking to rectify that to the best of our ability in Season 2.”
 
Speaking of which, French media company AB Groupe inked a deal to pick up media rights to Overwatch League, where it will carry play on pay-television channel AB1. AB Groupe will provide coverage of the OWL in France and other French-speaking regions as well as in French overseas territories.
 
A new report from Newzoo shows that gaming content consumption in the first quarter of the year scored 2 billion and 0.4 billion viewing hours respectively by YouTube Gaming and Twitch. Of that time, 11.6% of Twitch’s viewership and 8.2% of YouTube Gaming’s viewership comprised of esports content from events and leagues. Twitch accounted for 82% of the total viewership hours in Q1 overall, while the Top 10 channels on YouTube alone made up 18% of the platform’s viewership in the timeframe.
 
Maryland’s victory over Illinois to lay claim to the BTN League of Legends Championship sparked viewership growth. The network saw viewership peak at 21,467 viewers for a rise of 163% over last year’s contest. For the entire tournament, over 4.5 million minutes were consumed across seven matches, with 900K unique views.
 
GINX Esports TV will expand its European turf courtesy of a new deal to launch its 24/7 linear channel on Elisa Viihde, a digital entertainment service in Finland, according to reports. “Finland has been an undeniable forerunner when it comes to European eSports. We are very pleased to partner with Elisa Viihde to bring our channel to this new audience. We look forward to work with Elisa to establish GINX Esports TV as the major destination for Finnish esports lovers, ” said Michiel Bakker, CEO of GINX Esports TV.
 
Unikrn added tournament platform ChallengeMe.GG to its house, where it will be leveraged to continue to offer both casual & skill-based competitive gaming across tournaments, ladders, leagues and direct challenges with friends. Once integrated into the Unikrn platform, CME will extend the utility of UKG with buy-in tournaments to start as soon as this May and other skill-based, blockchain-powered challenges coming in the near future. The acquisition will also lead to the integration of the Unikrn Wallet into CME’s functionality so users will be able to enter tournaments, make trades and use UKG on the CME platform.
 
 
INDUSTRY

 

Publishers are staking their claim for E3 announcements, as Ubisoft locked in its annual pre-show briefing for June 11 at 1p PT. Meanwhile, Xbox reserved its own slot, inviting press to attend its briefing on June 10 at 1p PT.
 
Juniper Research released a new report projecting that loot boxes and skins gambling will generate $50 billion in worldwide consumer spending by 2022, up from less than $30 billion this year. “Juniper strongly recommends regulation for skin trading and gambling, in an attempt to both prevent youth participation and remove malicious actors who run sites which steal skins or short-change users,” the company said about the findings.
 
Games for Change, the global advocate for the power of games as drivers of social good, announced the first slate of programming for its 15th Annual Games for Change Festival, taking place June 28-30 at Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York City. Featured talks and panels include: Cities Remixing Pokemon GO; MinecraftEDU; BBC Earth: Life in VR Panel; Games and Empathy Panel; and Game to Grow: How eSports Can Shape Student Success. The Games for Change Festival will follow three focused tracks, as it has done in years prior: Games for Learning, Neurogaming & Health, and Civics & Social Issues.
 
Elsewhere, Riot Games is teaming up with MTV to launch an esports and music festival in Singapore. The event, titled Hyperplay, will be presented by the Singapore Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and the National Youth Council of Singapore.
 
Konami’s 10-year run as a partner with the UEFA Champions League will end this year. IGN writes that the org has been a part of Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series since 2008 but, following the Champions League final in Kyiv this May, Konami will no longer hold exclusive rights to feature the competition in-game.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES
 
Darrell Gallagher is joining the Xbox executive leadership team from Activision, where he served as Senior VP and head of development. The hire was announced on Twitter by Matt Booty, head of Microsoft Studios, who noted that he would share more at E3.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1982: Namco releases Dig Dug in arcades.
 
Trivia: Dig Dug joins the original Pac-Man as games that famously feature a kill screen that kicks in at what level? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who gets targeted by the blue shell in Mario Kart?  Answer: The race leader. Kudos: Julie Reuther/Sydney; Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Jason Valluzzi-Active International/NY; Danny Araque/NY; Jorge Tatto-Wasserman/Toronto; Christian Perilla-Fusion/Miami; Carly Dasso-Saatchi & Saatchi/Oakbrook Terrace; Jason Morrow-Toyota/Houston; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Greg Dudsic/Venice; Phil Ranta- Mobcrush/Santa Monica
 
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