Philadelphia 76ers’ brotherly love For esports

Last year, the Philadelphia 76ers bought Team Dignitas and became the first North American sports franchise to buy an esports team. Earlier this year they became one of 17 teams that’ll participate in the NBA 2K League, the first esports league of its kind. Now, almost a week ago, the 76ers announced a partnership with HyperX, a gaming accessories company. The 76ers are incorporating esports into their company in efforts to further grow the industry.

Sixers Training Complex. Courtesy of NBA.

HyperX partnership

HyperX became the first endemic esports/gaming brand to partner with an NBA team. They will become the official headset partner of the Philadelphia 76ers and also sponsor Team Dignitas as well. HyperX also hasn’t shied away from sponsoring NBA players such as Gordon Hayward and De’Aaron Fox. The Business Wire reports, “During the 2017-2018 NBA season, HyperX will participate with the 76ers in a range of in-game activation elements, including courtside and in-arena LED ring signage and branding, exposure on scoreboard, concourse activations and HyperX giveaway nights.”

If you’ve been to an NBA game before, imagine a HyperX commercial during timeout breaks or ads during broadcasts. The HyperX partnership can potentially lead other gaming companies to develop their own partnerships with other teams as well. For example what if, Fremont-based, Corsair Components partner with the Golden State Warriors and their upcoming 2K League team? The HyperX and 76ers partnership will become a catalyst for more opportunities to come to the NBA.

Fan engagement

HyperX has untapped options to gain more exposure and normalize esports to the public. Scott O’Neil, CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, spoke with SportTechie about their efforts to innovate fan engagement. O’Neil said, “Some of the improvements they made to the game and the way they’re engaging their fan base, I think it’s a great way to tie fans back and forth through esports and the real game.” Another example is Nike’s NBA Connected Jersey where you gain exclusive content by simply tapping your smartphone on the tag of the jersey.

Every year technology continues to improve and reaches its way to innovate marketing. The 76ers can deliver creative fan engagement with their own fans and introduce them to esports with their own 2K League team. The idea can go both ways as you can also introduce esports viewers to the NBA. By increasing viewership, they create more streams of revenue and opportunities to expand between the two industries.

Getting other teams involved

Chad Biggs, Senior VP of Marketing Partnerships of the Philadelphia 76ers, believes more teams will take interest. “I don’t believe it undermines the league. We have some very strong teams. It will make a very competitive league and more teams will follow,” Biggs said in response to teams not participating from an interview from SportBusiness. Many teams want to view the success of the NBA 2K League’s first season before they want to jump in. After all the NBA and its teams are a business and, for some, esports is still considered a risk.

NBA teams know their business and can utilize their resources to translate into esports. O’Neil also commented, “You started to see a lot of my peers enter the space thinking, ‘OK, we understand how to sell tickets, we understand broadcast deals, we understand sponsorship.’” The Philadelphia 76ers has shown their admiration and potential for esports to create a connection between esports and traditional sports.


Featured image courtesy of Tito Sar.

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