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How the NBA is Making Waves in eSports

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How the NBA is Making Waves in eSportsReading Time: 4 minutes

 

The National Basketball Association has just turned 73 years old and is one of the four major leagues for professional level sports in North America. Thanks to this age and prominence, it is often considered the world’s leading basketball league, with good reason. Whilst comprising of teams only from the United States and Canada, the NBA attracts many international players who join from every continent. In addition, the average NBA team is worth $1.9 billion, considerably more than teams in other leagues.

Expanding the Empire

The NBA is currently enacting a strategy to leverage its brand around the world, developing audiences in regions outside of the United States including the UK, Africa and China. As part of this it recently announced the launch of a NBA YouTube channel to stream games to sub-Saharan audiences.

The eSports Expansion

In 2017, the NBA and games developer Take-Two Interactive announced that 17 of the 30 NBA teams would be taking part in the inaugural NBA 2K eSports League. This list included big names like the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors. The first of these eSports games took place in 2018, using the NBA 2K video games. Like real life games, NBA 2K eSports League games are contested between two teams of 5 players, making use of the “Pro-Am” mode found in the consumer version of NBA 2K 2018.

Just like in real life basketball, the eSports teams are generally made up of the following types of player:

  • Point guard: generally taking the on court leadership role for the team, typically having the best ball handling and passing skills to assist in creating shots
  • Shooting guard: typically the best shooter on the team, tasked with exploiting these skills, particularly when shooting from behind the three-point line
  • Small forward: often considered the most versatile position of the five, the small forward often takes on the role of the shooting guard, but is more likely to score baskets from lay-ups or slam dunks in contrast to the shooting guard’s three-point shooting abilities
  • Power forward: a versatile role, similar to the centre, which requires shooting and defence skills against all types of players
  • Centre: typically the tallest players, defending against shots and collecting rebounds.

The “eSeason”

In the real world, the NBA Championship will be decided between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors in mid June. Currently, odds comparison site Oddschecker is ranking the Raptors as favourites to take the crown. However, the NBA 2K eSports season begins in spring and finishes in summer. This timing allows the NBA to have its brand utilised for a larger portion of the year, beyond the end of the traditional basketball season.

eSports has become a multi million dollar industry.  Photo by Anthony Brolin, License

 

First Mover Advantage

The NBA’s announcement in 2017 that it would be launching the NBA 2K eSports League meant that it was the first major sports brand in the United States to enter the world of eSports. In contrast, most other eSports leagues are organised by tech companies like Intel – or games companies like Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite. Therefore, if the NBA is successful it will have several years of development to build a loyal eSports fan base, before rivals such as the National Football League or Major League Baseball join the party.

Growing Already

After a successful first year, four additional real life NBA teams will be joining the NBA 2K eSports League lineup, bringing the total number to 21. These new teams are: the Atlanta Hawks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Brooklyn Nets and the Minnesota Timberwolves.The growth provides mutual benefits, since the teams will bring with them their own existing supporters who are more likely to follow their team’s eSports team, than an unknown entrant. In addition, the fans of eSports are likely to also gain a stronger interest in the real life team, buying merchandise and visiting games.

Live Streaming

Just as traditional sports leagues like the NBA have sold rights to air games on TV, the NBA 2K eSports League has signed a deal to have its games streamed live over the internet. The deal with streaming platform Twitch sees all games shown live, available to its audience of 15 million daily active users. The multi year streaming deal also includes commentary and analysis, just like you would expect from traditional TV coverage of any other sport.

The NBA 2K eSports deal is not Twitch’s first with the NBA. In December 2017, the two companies signed a deal that enabled Twitch to live stream games from the NBA G League, the official minor league, with up to 6 matches each week being distributed on the platform.

Sponsorship

Just like traditional sports leagues, the NBA 2K eSports League has signed a number of major sponsorship deals with large companies. Games are played on computers provided by gaming PC brand Alienware, using powerful processing chipsets supplied by Intel. Players use HyperX sponsored headsets and Scuf Gaming branded controllers. Teams also have their own sponsors, with their logos displayed on the teams’ in-game uniforms, just like in real life.

Conclusion

The growth in eSports has been massive, with large sums of money now being invested in creating leagues with all of the hallmarks of a traditional sport. In its quest to become a global sports brand, the NBA has been able to leverage its existing assets to create a large following in eSports, almost overnight. By launching the league in 2018 with 17 existing NBA teams, the NBA 2K eSports League already had loyal fans of 17 established sports clubs who would want to support them. Thus, it has a pre-made fanbase, huge financial assets and an established brand to leverage sponsorship deals and to use in negotiations when selling streaming rights.

In addition, the NBA’s venture into eSports is a significant opportunity to expand the reach of its brand into new geographic regions, as well as to new demographics that had not previously been interested in basketball. Even if a player does not become an avid watcher of NBA games, sales of the NBA 2K video game titles are also likely to benefit from the exposure of the NBA 2K eSports League.

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: How the NBA is Making Waves in eSports

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Exclusive Q&A with Ian McDonnell CEO at Blexr

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Exclusive Q&A with Ian McDonnell CEO at BlexrReading Time: 5 minutes

 

First up, tell us about yourself. It’s always great to hear successful entrepreneurs speak about themselves.

Mine is the classic affiliate story: in my final year of college in 2004, I started getting seriously into poker after winning €450 in a home game. Having been broke my entire student life, winning that amount of money in a night piqued my interest. I started to read a lot about poker, immersing myself in books, forums, and any other poker-related content I could find.

Soon after, I graduated from university and started my first job with a telecoms company, working in their web content department. At this point, I was playing online poker almost every day. After some initial struggles, I was earning more playing poker in the evenings than I was in my day job.

I was keen to travel while I was still young. Having saved up some money, I decided to quit my job to seek adventures overseas. At this point, I had enough of a bankroll to play poker full-time and sufficient money left in the bank for a return ticket, in case poker didn’t work out. I headed off to Asia with some friends and started my professional poker-playing journey.

The next three years went brilliantly. By 2008, I had travelled across Asia and moved from low-stakes to high-stakes games.

I was also getting an amazing rakeback deal from the poker site I played on. The manager signed me up to their affiliate programme and told me to offer the same deal to my poker network. Not long after, I had 20-30 of my poker friends on the same deal and got a 5% cut of their action.

Most of my poker network were professional players, so 5% of their rake added up to a pretty significant amount. That then got me interested in the business side of poker, and it was from there that I found affiliation and immersed myself in online marketing in the same way I had previously done with poker.

I had very strong links with several members of the close-knit Irish poker community and regularly chatted with a gentleman who went by the name of “roadsweeper”. After we got talking about building a website together, we decided to try our hands at the online marketing game.

When roadsweeper (or Paudie, as he’s better known these days) and I started working together, affiliation went from a part-time hobby to a full-time job. Our first site was dedicated to our shared passion – poker – and we had immediate success, reaching four-figure earnings in our first few months. Soon after, we made our first foray into casino, and sports betting followed not long after that.

While I’m wearing the hat of CEO, Blexr is very much a partnership. Our success to date would not have been possible without Paudie’s positive energy, work ethic, and sense of humour, as well as his superhuman ability to put up with my pig-headedness. He was also the driving force behind the eventual creation of Blexr in 2015.

It has been four years since Blexr started. What were the ideas and circumstances behind founding it?

At the start of 2015, I was in China and Paudie was in Ireland. We were running 10-20 websites, and had freelancers spread across the world managing everything from design to dev to content.

Back then, we assumed every affiliate was running a similar operation to our own, and that everybody was running a “two guys in a garage” type of setup. On receiving an invite to a private affiliate event in Punta Cana, our eyes were opened when we learned that several of the super affiliates in attendance ran “real” companies with offices, staff, and the rest of the things you’d expect in a normal business.

That led to discussions on centralising operations. We went on to do some research on the various gaming hubs around the world and finally settled on Malta as the home for Blexr.

The company is going great, judging from the awards you get. What is the secret of maintaining freshness and motivation even after four years?

That’s a great question. While Blexr opened its doors four years ago, we’ve actually been working together since 2008.

Our motivations have changed a lot over the years. Initially, the main motivation was money. When you have bills to pay, you need to have a viable business that can cover your living costs. Luckily, things went well from the very beginning, so we never had financial worries.

Once you reach a certain level of financial success, money becomes much less of a motivating factor. Nowadays, there are other aspects of running a company that are far more important to us.

The first is our focus on building great products, something that is part of Blexr’s mission. Being part of a team that works on products users love is highly motivating.

Secondly, developing and growing a company culture is both fun and challenging. It can be an emotional rollercoaster at times, but ultimately it’s very rewarding.

Blexr has reputably earned a standing in the lead generation, especially in the gaming and casino verticals. Tell us about some of your innovations in the digital marketing arena.

All of Blexr’s success is a result of the hard work and dedication of the 100 or so individuals that make up our team of teams. Our growth and constant evolution and innovation is a result of their creativity, dedication, and commitment. Malta often gets a bad reputation when it comes to the quality of talent on the island; we’re fortunate to be blessed with some of the smartest and hardest-working people in the industry.

When it comes to innovation, at the moment we’re putting a lot of focus on big data. We’re working on a number of different projects that aim to provide a personalised gaming experience for our users. We’re also exploring different ways to discover what users want to then tailor our products to their needs.

Since you are into the business of bringing customers to the gaming and gambling websites, you must be in a great position to judge what customers really need. Could you specify a couple of things that customers really need or want, but not available at present in the gambling industry?

I think the big thing that customers in gaming want is trust and transparency, which is often lacking in the industry. Transparency is something we really care about at Blexr. It’s one of the core values of the company, and it’s also part of our mission statement when it comes to how we approach our products and our users.

The digital marketing space keeps on evolving. There was once Google’s near monopoly. Then Facebook arrived. Now, a host of new social media upstarts threaten to disrupt the digital marketing space every other day. How do you keep calm and generate leads amidst such fast-paced evolution?

The affiliate industry and SEO have changed a lot over the past ten years. The methods we used to rank websites a decade ago would have your website penalised for life if you tried them today.
It’s always important to look towards the future. What way is SEO going? What sites are ranking well these days and why? What other channels can be used to generate leads apart from SEO? We try to keep one eye on the future at all times, to ensure that we’re building sites and products that will stand the test of time.

You bring leads from all over the world. What are the steps that you take to ensure legal compliance, as the rules on gambling practically change from country to country – even from state to state in many countries?

We have fantastic commercial and content teams with dedicated people managing compliance across our network of sites. We are in regular contact with all our partners to ensure our sites are always up to date and aligned with current regulations.

Now you have an office in Barcelona as well, apart from the headquarters in Malta. Any plans to expand further, especially to the USA and Asia?

Right now, we’re focused on our two offices in Malta and Barcelona. As the regulatory landscape changes in the US, Asia, and other markets, we may look to strategically set up offices in those locations. However, for now, our priorities are Malta and Barcelona.

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: Exclusive Q&A with Ian McDonnell CEO at Blexr

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Zitro’s World Novelties, Illusion And Allure, Are In Red Casino

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Zitro´s new Video Slots cabinets Illusion and Allure are causing a sensation throughout Mexico, and also at Red Casino owned by the Petolof Group.

New players are already enjoying the latest global releases from Zitro: sensational cabinets and spectacular games. The new video slots game Bashiba Link that has been designed with an attractive Chinese theme that, thanks to its graphics and sounds of incredible quality, makes the game in Illusion an unprecedented experience.

In the new Allure cabinet debut the latest video slots games that combine the “multiway” mechanics with the attractive Link Bonus: “88 Link Lucky Charms” and “88 Link Wild Duels” that now are delighting Red Casino players.

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: Zitro’s World Novelties, Illusion And Allure, Are In Red Casino

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Legislators from Gaming States Announces 35 Expert Speakers for January 10-12 Winter Meeting in San Diego

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Legislators from Gaming States Announces 35 Expert Speakers for January 10-12 Winter Meeting in San Diego

 

The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) announced the roster of speakers for its NCLGS Winter Meeting 2020 that takes place January 10-12, 2020, at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. Registration is open for legislators and the public at http://nclgs.org/index.php/events/nclgs-winter-meeting-san-diego-2020.

“We are excited that so many highly respected experts are joining us this year in San Diego to help legislators, regulators, and industry participants understand the evolving landscape that is gaming across the United States,” said NCLGS President-elect Keith Pickard, a Nevada State Senator. “The lineup of speakers and panelists this year is unprecedented in quality and scope. I can hardly wait for this conference to start.”

The NCLGS Winter Meeting will focus on critical issues that legislative decision makers throughout the United States will confront, ranging from the rollout of sports betting to growing revenues and generating employment, to law enforcement, security and cheating at casinos. Additionally, a major policy initiative will be unveiled by American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Responsible Gambling Collaborative as a special presentation.

Speakers who will address these and other timely issues include:

  • Gerald Aubin, Director, Rhode Island Lottery
  • Joe Briggs, Staff Counsel, Public Policy Counsel, National Football League Players Association
  • Jonodev O. Chaudhuri, Partner, Quarles & Brady
  • William P. Coley II, Senator, Ohio
  • Frank Donaghue, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Chief Compliance Officer, Penn National
  • William Egan, Senior Lottery Associate, Spectrum Gaming Group
  • Alan Feldman, Distinguished Fellow, Responsible Gaming, University of Nevada, Las Vegas – International Gaming Institute
  • Jon Ford, Senator, Indiana
  • Steve Geller, Principal, Geller Law Firm
  • Robert Heller, CEO, Spectrum Gaming Capital
  • Jamie Hummingbird, Director, Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission
  • Brandt Iden, Representative, Michigan
  • Robert Jacobson, Executive Director, California Council on Problem Gambling
  • Susan Jensen, Executive Director, California Nations Indian Gaming Association
  • Kate Lowenhar-Fisher, Member, Dickinson Wright
  • John Maloney, Principal Attorney, John K. Maloney Law
  • Marquest Meeks, Senior Counsel, Sports Betting & Investigations, Major League Baseball
  • Cody Martinez, Chairman, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation
  • Bill Miller, President & CEO, American Gaming Association (AGA)
  • Steve Norton, CEO, Norton Management
  • Keith Pickard, Senator, Nevada
  • Dan Reaser, Director, Fennemore Craig
  • F. Douglas Reed, Senior Pari-Mutuel Associate, Spectrum Gaming Group
  • Kevin Ryan, Representative, Connecticut
  • May Scheve Reardon, Executive Director, Missouri Lottery
  • Sue Schneider, Editor-in-Chief, Gaming Law Review
  • Judith A. Shapiro, EsquireJudith Shapiro Law
  • Katherine Spilde, Professor, L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, San Diego State University
  • Perry Thurston, Senator, Florida
  • Dave Trujillo, Director, Washington State Gambling Commission
  • Joe Verrengia, Representative, Connecticut
  • Rachel Volberg, Research Professor, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Keith Whyte, Executive Director, National Council on Problem Gambling
  • Robert Zahradnik, Principal Officer, State and Local Fiscal Health, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Jane Zerbi, Principal, Law Office of Jane Zerbi

Additional speakers will be added in the coming weeks.

The agenda for the three-day NCLGS Winter Meeting includes:

  • Six legislative-chaired Committee sessions that will focus on tribal and commercial casinos, responsible gaming, and lotteries, as well legal, regulatory, and operational aspects related to sports betting
  • Two IMGL masterclass panels conducted by the International Masters of Gaming Law focusing on the legal and regulatory trends of tribal-state gaming compacts and cutting-edge issues related to the surge of sports betting across the U.S.
  • Morning Keynote Address from Robert Zahradnik of The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Luncheon Keynote Address from Bill Miller of AGA: “State of the Industry”
  • Special presentation featuring the release of the “Responsible Gambling Effectiveness Principles” by AGA’s Responsible Gambling Collaborative
  • General session panel examining what state and local governments can do to capture economic benefits of gaming
  • Thursday evening networking reception
  • Friday evening welcome reception
  • Saturday afternoon offsite event

To view the agenda, register, and book rooms at the host hotel at special attendee rates by the December 11 deadline, visit http://nclgs.org/index.php/events/nclgs-winter-meeting-san-diego-2020.

For sponsorship information, contact events@nclgs.org. Legislators and others seeking NCLGS membership information should contact Wayne Marlin at wayne.marlin@nclgs.org.

NCLGS is the only organization of state lawmakers that meets on a regular basis to discuss issues relating to gaming. Members of NCLGS serve as chairpersons or members of state legislative committees responsible for the regulation of gaming in their state legislative houses. NCLGS does not promote or oppose gaming but is primarily concerned with the regulation and economic and social impacts of the industry. The NCLGS Foundation is the educational and research arm of NCLGS. The 501(c)(3) non-profit is a source of non-partisan data on issues of gaming legislation and regulation. Learn more about NCLGS at https://www.nclgs.org/.

Spectrum Gaming Group, which has performed advisory and consulting work for gaming operators, regulators, and legislatures in 40 U.S. states and territories and in 48 countries on six continents, serves as Executive Director of NCLGS. Discover more about Spectrum at https://www.spectrumgaming.com/.

SOURCE National Council of Legislators from Gaming States

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: Legislators from Gaming States Announces 35 Expert Speakers for January 10-12 Winter Meeting in San Diego

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