Since the NBA first played in Europe in 1993 -- at Wembley Arena -- London has hosted four games and seven teams.
The NBA says basketball has grown in the U.K., and that club membership doubled over the last four years ahead of the 2012 Olympics. The NBA will also support the London Youth Games, which tips off in May.
In addition to digital game maker EA Sports, which has been the presenting sponsor since the inaugural tour in 2006, others on board include Adidas, American Airlines, Champion and Coca-Cola. Spalding, the official basketball of the NBA, will serve as the tour's official supplier. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will serve as a marketing partner in London and will join all partners in conducting NBA-themed promotional activities to reach basketball fans around the game at The O2.
Grassroots efforts for last year's tour included EA Sports-hosted skills challenges in London and Paris. Says David Pekush, EA Sports marketing manager: "The full scale of [our] involvement in this year's tour is not 100% determined yet, since we are at the start of the planning phase at the moment.
"We are part of every external communication--in being named or with visuals. Additionally, we are part of the game experience--having our game, NBA Live, at the venue for the basketball fans to play. We are also present with visuals in the arena that will be seen on cameras."
He adds that EA Sports has garnered a strong following in Europe. "Due to such especially successful games as the FIFA [soccer] franchise, EA Sports as a well-known sports and video gaming brand is already highly established in the European market."
The NBA Europe Live Tour lets the game maker tell NBA fans in Europe that EA Sports has "an authentic NBA game coming up which features all the NBA teams plus European teams," says Pekush. "We can reach out directly to the fans in the stadium, being part of all external communication and events and activities during the lead up to the events themselves. The great thing about our game is that we extend that excitement for the NBA to 365 days a year."
EA Sports popularity varies by country. "NBA Live is immensely popular in France and Spain, while Tiger Woods and Fight Night have an incredible following in the UK. FIFA is one of the most popular video games in the entire world, and that is primarily due to the amazing success it has in Europe."