NBA, player's union agree to reported $1.1B licensing deal for 'NBA 2K' video game

Video games are big business, and “NBA 2K” is one of the biggest titles in the industry

So it should come as no surprise that “NBA 2K” publisher Take-Two Interactive Software is willing to pay big bucks to license its best seller.

Massive deal for video game license

But the number reported on Tuesday is eye-popping.

The NBA, NBPA and “NBA 2K” announced an extension of their partnership that The Wall Street Journal reports is valued at $1.1 billion over seven years.

It’s a massive deal that allows “NBA 2K” to continue to use NBA branding and player likenesses for what the Journal reports is the top-selling sports video game and the third-best seller overall in the business. That, of course, means it outsells the “Madden” NFL franchise.

The NBA’s massive deal with “NBA2K” is a testament to the league’s unique ability to connect with fans across multiple platforms. (Getty)
The NBA’s massive deal with “NBA2K” is a testament to the league’s unique ability to connect with fans across multiple platforms. (Getty)

The rise of ‘NBA 2K’ of ‘NBA Live’

“NBA 2K” has sold 86 million units as the top-selling NBA video game over 17 years, according to the announcement, including 10 million copies sold last year.

What’s even more astounding is that there is no report that the deal gives “NBA 2K” exclusive rights. EA Sports continues to produce second-tier rival “NBA Live,” which pales in popularity among gamers.

EA Sports has declined to release sales figures of late, but The Washington Post noted in September that “NBA Live” had around 65,500 followers on the game-streaming platform Twitch compared to roughly 2.5 million for “NBA 2K.”

Silver talks value of franchise in growing league

“An entire generation of basketball fans engage and connect with NBA teams and players through NBA 2K,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wrote in a statement announcing the deal. “We are grateful to extend our partnership with Take-Two and the NBPA to build on the enormous popularity of the NBA 2K franchise and the continued global growth of basketball.”

He’s also surely grateful for that $1.1 billion.

The continued partnership and big money attached to it speaks to the success of the NBA in connecting with fans via multiple platforms. The league and its players leverage social media better than any other U.S. sports league, while the continued rise of “NBA 2K” as a video game behemoth reinforces the NBA’s wide reach.

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