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Twitch Locks Up NBA 2K League Exclusive Live-Streaming Esports Rights

A lineup of nearly 200 games in the NBA’s fledgling hoops esports league this year is coming to Twitch.

The NBA 2K League announced a multiyear pact with Twitch that includes live broadcast rights to all games. Under the terms of the pact, Amazon-owned Twitch has exclusive live rights to the NBA 2K League’s inaugural 2018 season, which tips off May 1.

All NBA 2K League games will be available live on Twitch at twitch.tv/nba2kleague. Following each live broadcast, games will be available for fans to view on demand.

It’s the first media-rights deal for the NBA 2K League, which is the first official esports league operated by a U.S. pro sports league. The venture between the National Basketball Association and Take-Two Interactive, the longtime publisher of the “NBA 2K” game franchise, was announced in early 2017.

Throughout the NBA 2K League’s season, teams will be competing for $1 million prize money across three tournaments and playoffs. The 15-week regular season will begin on May 1, comprising 12 weeks of matchups and three weeks of tournaments. All 17 teams will compete in a minimum of 19 games, including 14 regular-season games and three additional tournaments.

“Twitch shares our innovative spirit and commitment to putting the gaming community first,” said NBA 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue, who was previously the NBA’s SVP of team marketing and business operations. He called the video-streaming service “the ideal home to provide our passionate 2K, NBA and esports fans around the world with the opportunity to catch all the excitement of our inaugural season.”

The deal comes after Twitch last December landed a deal to live-stream up to six games weekly from the NBA G League, the league’s official minor league. Those broadcasts feature interactive elements and the opportunity for Twitch broadcasters to provide their own commentary on the G League action.

The 17 teams of the NBA 2K League are owned by existing NBA franchises. Each team has a roster of six players (for 102 total). Twitch will live-stream up to 199 games throughout the ’18 season, including weekly matchups during the regular season; three in-season tournaments; best-of-three playoffs, to be held Aug. 17-18; and the best-of-three NBA 2K League Finals on Aug. 25. The live streams will include live commentary and analysis from talent (to be announced) and additional league updates.

The NBA 2K League made its live premiere on Twitch earlier this month with the league’s inaugural draft on April 4 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the selection by the Dallas Mavericks’ Mavs Gaming of Artreyo Boyd (“Dimez”) as the first overall pick.

Twitch said it will work with the NBA to build enhanced features for the 2K League broadcasts, such as interactive custom overlays. The social-streaming company says it has more than 15 million daily active users.

“From video games to real games, the NBA continues to innovate around basketball when it comes to engaging with the Twitch community,” said Justin Dellario, Twitch’s head of sports programs. “By partnering with Twitch for the NBA 2K League, that pioneering spirit will continue to be reflected when we elevate this latest entry to the world of competitive gaming with interactive features and our global stage.”

These are the 17 teams in the 2K League: Philadelphia 76ers’ 76ers GC; Portland Trail Blazers’ Blazer5 Gaming; Milwaukee Bucks’ Bucks Gaming; Cleveland Cavaliers’s Cavs Legion GC; Boston Celtics’ Celtics Crossover Gaming; Memphis Grizzlies’ Grizz Gaming; Miami Heat’s Heat Check Gaming; Utah Jazz’s Jazz Gaming; Sacramento Kings’ Kings Guard Gaming; New York Knicks’ Knicks Gaming; Orlando Magic’s Magic Gaming; Dallas Mavericks’ Mavs Gaming; Indiana Pacers’ Pacers Gaming; Detroit Pistons’ Pistons GT; Toronto Raptors’ Raptors Uprising GC; Golden State Warriors’ Warriors Gaming Squad; and Washington Wizards’ Wizards District Gaming.

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