Corporate growth strategies in an era of digitalization: A network analysis of the national basketball association’s 2K league sponsors

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Traditional sport leagues must innovate and embrace emerging trends to grow. At the forefront of these trends are the inherently digital esports –competitive video game competitions. In particular, the NBA is a trailblazer in the esports industry by partnering with the video game publisher Take-Two Interactive, to create a virtual sport-simulation league, the NBA 2K League. The NBA’s entrepreneurial activities create challenges regarding how to position the digital, boundary spanning product that incorporates elements from both traditional sports and esports. The current study utilized network analysis to examine three sponsorship portfolios: the NBA, the 2K League, and an existing esports league, the League of Legends Championship Series. Findings indicate that the NBA is using an innovative hybrid corporate growth strategy, with a diverse sponsorship portfolio for the 2K League. This strategy serves to mitigate the challenges of digitalization by legitimizing the 2K League across physical and virtual domains.




This article is the authors' final published version in Journal of Business Research, Volume 133, 2021, September 2021, Pages 208-217.

The published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2021.04.068. Copyright © Elsevier Inc.