Orlando Magic’s foray into esports helps make gaming big business

Planning to enter the world of competitive video gaming in May, the Orlando Magic will soon select the players for their new franchise.

The NBA 2K esports league, which includes the Magic Gaming team, will conduct a draft lottery Tuesday to learn the order of selection for its 17 franchises — which will add to the business reach of the NBA and boost exposure for the professional video game community, which enables thousands of players to earn a livable wage.

Sponsors, once made up exclusively of video game-related companies, now include mainstream brands such as Coca Cola, Audi and Comcast Infinity. The reason for the shift is simple, said Mike Redlick, associate chair of UCF’s DeVos Sports Business Management Program.

“It’s the eyeballs,” said Redlick, who has been chief marketing officer with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, adding that the NBA has a built-in way to potentially grow its sponsorship. “Most teams will go to their current partners and use esports as an upsell.”