Welcome to a new weekly segment, Take Two (like Take-Two Interactive), where we take a quick look at two totally unrelated (or are they?) topics dealing with the NBA 2K League. Feel free to submit a topic you’d like to see covered, by e-mail or by PM.
Take One: Jerry(West)mandering
What the heck is Jerry(West)mandering? Great question, I’m glad you asked. Jerry(West)mandering is the process by which the 17 teams currently participating in the NBA 2K League compete for fan support. It gets its name from gerrymandering, the political tool that divvies up districts to give an advantage to one party or the other. Here, teams will draw on their home fans and fans of their own team for initial support. But the league’s player movement model, along with prior support for unaffiliated players, will complicate matters. Hometown favorites will certainly come into play, but the relative impermanence of players (there are as of yet no long-term deals) and potential team-jumping will likely cause fan affiliations to shift alongside players with whom fans have supported longer than whichever NBA 2K League team drafts them. In future years, look for more complex, long-term contracts to rectify this. What about fans of NBA teams who don’t yet have a 2K League counterpart? Will their allegiances shift over time? And what about the large international market? The team that best markets themselves, and more importantly their players, will have the upper hand. Fan support drives competitive sports, and the NBA 2K League will be no different — hence the importance of Jerry(West)mandering.
Take Two: Broadcasting
The League has still not announced what sort of broadcasting setup it will have. The safe money has to be on some sort of Twitch agreement, for two reasons. First of all, the 2K community thrives on Twitch streaming — a lot of the player publicity and scouting has taken place through Twitch. Second of all, the NBA G League has partnered with Twitch, a potential model for the NBA 2K League to follow. Another option, though more of a reach, is to strike a deal with ESPN, which would attract more sports/non-esports fans. ESPN has a deal to broadcast the Madden 18 Championship series, but it’s hard to see them giving anything near prime time to a burgeoning league’s regular season. Also, considering the ESPN/EA relationship, EA probably wouldn’t be thrilled with 2K taking another big step above EA’s own NBA Live series. A little more clarification on this front in terms of scheduling would help with these predictions. Watch for Scott O’Gallagher and other 2K esports heads as commentators and analysts, similar to the All-Star Weekend event during the 2K17 cycle. What kind of adds will we see? Will the league’s teams display corporate logos on their jerseys in the mode of their parent team? There are still lots of questions on this one, but we’ll get some ideas when we see how the league intends to broadcast the draft (hey, they’re going to beat the real NBA to it). All in all, for a new league looking to make its mark, these sorts of things are super important — especially broadcasting.