YouTube to live stream NBA 2K esports games


By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The NBA 2K League, a professional esports league for video game basketball players, said on Tuesday that YouTube would livestream all of its games this season.

Coverage includes more than 230 regular season, playoff and league final games. Games are played at the league’s studio in the New York borough of Queens.

The deal allows YouTube, a unit of Alphabet Inc, to expand its already wide range of esports content.

It comes at a time when interest in esports is exploding, when professional video game players compete, often for prize pools in front of thousands of fans watching online and in arenas.

The NBA 2K League is “one of the few leagues that we don’t already show on YouTube,” Ryan Wyatt, global head of gaming at YouTube, told Reuters.

The platform already distributes content from more than two dozen other leagues.

It said it has 200 million users watching gaming content globally every day. In 2018, users watched over 50 billion hours of gaming content.

YouTube’s overall gaming strategy is to bring dozens of esports leagues and organizations onto its platform under non-exclusive distribution deals.

Wyatt wants to see esports “on as many platforms as possible because it’s an opportunity…for this space to continue to grow,” he said. “We have no desire for exclusivity at this time. We want to celebrate the category and grow it.”

The second season of the NBA 2K League, consisting of 21 teams, began on April 2 and ends in August. The NBA itself was the first professional sports league to partner with YouTube in 2005, when it launched its own channel.

The NBA and YouTube would not disclose financial terms of the deal.

The deal currently doesn’t have an end date because it’s “more just about ramping them up on our platform,” Wyatt said.

Fans can also continue to watch NBA 2K games live on Twitch, a unit of Inc, which previously held exclusive broadcast rights to league games.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


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