Sports fans who frequent the Second Life virtual world on the Internet already can place bets at a sports book, join an online fan booster club and play a game of two-on-two basketball. And, as of today, they will be able to watch NBA broadband video clips, outfit their online personas in virtual NBA jerseys and be pitched by such real-world NBA corporate sponsors as Toyota and T-Mobile.
During an online news conference Monday, NBA Commissioner David Stern -- or rather his avatar, or virtual equivalent -- said the league realized last summer that it needed to move into the growing virtual world where more consumers are spending time and money.
Before announcing its deal with Second Life, the NBA struck deals to distribute its videos and other digital content through such companies as Yahoo and YouTube. "The fact is that we have to be [online] because that's where people are congregating," Stern said. "Our job is to be ubiquitous."
Second Life describes itself as a "3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents." The league hopes to establish a foothold in the virtual world by making its online "NBA Headquarters" a destination for fans seeking video from classic NBA regular-season and playoff games. Fans also will be able to buy virtual merchandise in an online NBA Store. NBA corporate sponsors are being invited to use the site to make marketing pitches.