“NBA 2K18” sold more than 9 million copies in the United States this year, with another 35 million registered users in China, per the NBA. It also says that 1.5 million of those U.S. gamers spend an average of 90 minutes per day playing the game. It’s that hour and a half window the 2K League is looking to own…” – Blake Schuster in an article titled ‘It will dwarf the NFL’: The NBA’s going all-in on esports with the NBA 2K League.

ESports are exploding in popularity, and the NBA is all-in on the phenomenon as they are launching NBA 2K League in May of this year. The idea is to capitalize on the popularity of the brand and to expand their global popularity, while also enhancing each team’s sponsorship opportunities.  

As an occasional gamer myself and being the father of a 10 year old boy who would rather play NBA 2K18 than eat, I’ve played the game and seen first hand the branding opportunities that are available in the platform. So, I thought it would be fun to do an analysis using SpotRight to see what kind of insight I could get. The data was compelling.

Diving into NBA2K: What I Did

Using PersonaBuilder, I created an analysis group of almost 1.7 Million people who engage with NBA 2K on Twitter and Instagram. I also created custom topics in the analysis based on the brands that are heavily promoted in the game itself. The report ran in about 45 minutes, and the findings were striking.

Gamers Revealed: What I found

Compared to the national average, people who follow NBA 2K are between 11X and 50X more  likely to engage with the heavily promoted brands in the platform:

Reese’s Puffs – 50X Under Armour Hoops – 46X Adidas Basketball – 42X
FootLocker – 31X Nike – 30X Jordan Brand – 28X
Mountain Dew – 16X Gatorade – 11X

What this says to me is the NBA2K has done a great job of:  

  • Knowing their gamer segment well
  • Choosing brands to partner with that resonate with their gamers
  • Driving additional brand affinity to its sponsor partners

Putting on my marketing hat, the analysis also showed a bunch of other potential areas to explore – opportunities in both sponsorship and marketing partnerships that could drive big value…

Opportunities to Capitalize On

Based on the data in the analysis, there a number of good ideas to explore and/or pursue –

Sponsorship / Partnership Opportunities
  • Restaurant Category – the group is 16X more likely to engage with Wingstop than the average group and 8X – 10X more likely to engage with Wendy’s, Whataburger or Burger King.  2K Games could approach one or more of these brands with a partnership opportunity that would resonate with a large portion of their overall segment.
  • Auto Category – (Note for you NBA 2K newbies – myCareer is a game mode where you can create a character and then get him on an NBA team as a rookie… you basically experience what it is like to start out as an undrafted NBA rookie.) In myCareer there are currently no automotive sponsorship opportunities, however people in the group are almost 20X more likely to follow Nissan than average. Kia, which is the official car of the NBA, doesn’t show up on the analysis at all. 2K Games could build Kia into the game in a later iteration in order to move the needle on engagement.
  • Mobile Network Categorya big part of the myCareer action in the game is spent on checking messages on a mobile phone… based on the analysis people in the group are 4.2X more likely to engage with Verizon than average and 3.8X more likely to engage with T-Mobile. The group is also 4.3X more likely to engage with Razer brand.
  • Big Baller BrandPeople in the group were 95X more likely to engage with Big Baller Brand than average… Lavar Ball is a disruptor in the grandest sense. Imagine what he could do in esports

When I started the analysis project, I had a couple of simple questions I wanted to answer – do brands that advertise on the NBA 2K platform resonate with the game’s fans and/or can I learn something about the potential opportunities for the NBA 2K League that is launching. I can definitively say that the answers to those questions are ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’.

And, as is often the case, the analysis also surfaces other areas to look at for opportunity –

— What could the esports league mean for the actual players in terms of sponsorship and personal brand building?

— How can the individual NBA franchises fully capitalize on the league to bolster fan engagement, fan expansion, merchandise sales, sponsorship activation, etc?

— Is there an opportunity for G-League franchises to capitalize on opportunities for expansion using esports affiliations?

— Who are going to be the biggest social media influencers to drive success?

— What digital streaming platform, if any, resonates the most with the potential fan base?

The list could go on and on… The point of all this is that SpotRight makes it easy to quickly turn consumer insights into marketing personas that fuel big ideas and smart targeting. Fast Insights, People based Audiences.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help you – hit me up at dennis@spotright.com