ORLANDO – The popularity of esports, and in particular the NBA 2K League, is growing rapidly. So much so that some of the world’s most well-known organizations are eager to get involved in the action.

The latest company to hop aboard is Papa John’s, the globe’s third largest pizza delivery company which has been rated No. 1 in customer satisfaction among all national pizza chains in the American Customer Satisfaction Index in 17 of the past 19 years.

Announced Wednesday was the win promotion partnership between Magic Gaming and the locally-owned and operated pizza restaurant franchise. Starting with the team’s contest against Pistons GT on Wednesday at 6 p.m., which will be live-streamed on YouTube and the NBA 2K League’s Twitch channel, Central Florida fans will get 50 percent off their online orders at PapaJohns.com the day after Magic Gaming victories when they use the promo code ‘MGWIN’ throughout the remainder of the season.

“We’re really excited,” Papa John’s Central Florida Marketing Director Michelle Puterbaugh said. “We’ve been partners with the Orlando Magic for a very long time, love what they represent, the community and the support of Orlando and the exposure of Orlando. So with this new business endeavor they have and this new arena of sports, we’re really excited to extend our partnership into that.”

This is the first time an esports property has teamed up with Papa John’s for a win promotion, suggesting there is a significant amount of confidence that the NBA 2K League is going to get even more popular as time evolves.

Several prominent organizations have joined forces with Magic Gaming for unique, first-of-its-kind partnerships, including Full Sail University, AS Monaco football club, Boxed Water, and now Papa John’s.

The partnership between Magic Gaming and Papa John’s extends far beyond what happens on the virtual court, though. For both sides, it’s about emboldening the local community and helping all the people that call Central Florida home reach their full potential.

“Collectively we’re much stronger together,” Puterbaugh said. “We’ve just always loved partnering together. I think we make a better impact when we can collectively pull our resources.”

Since beginning their partnership 18 years ago, the Orlando Magic and Papa John’s have inspired many in the area through various community outreach programs. The 50 percent off win promotion the day after Magic victories, which was developed nearly 11 years ago, continues to be a fan favorite promotion among team enthusiasts.

For Papa John’s, one of the Magic’s biggest cheerleaders, the focus is not as much on the offer itself, but rather on rejoicing the win, supporting the team, and growing the fan base.

“For us, we feel it’s a great way as fans ourselves of the Orlando Magic to celebrate and grow the fan base,” Puterbaugh said. “That’s what we personally love about it. It’s just a way to get our community engaged in a different manner that maybe they wouldn’t normally engage. They’re maybe a fan of pizza but hopefully they are going to be a fan of esports as well and grow that base.”

Viewership for the NBA 2K League on YouTube and Twitch continues to spike, another major reason why more and more brands are joining forces with the professional esports league co-founded by the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., which began play in May 2018.

Considering 65 percent of its business model is online, it’s a great opportunity for Papa John’s to connect even more with their customers. From using various digital microconsoles such as Apple TV or virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa, the way pizza lovers place their orders is much different now than it was 10, or even five, years ago.

“I know in the sports area, the fastest growing segment by far is esports,” Puterbaugh said. “So that for us makes great sense and a great evolution of our partnership with the Magic to grow in that area as well. We’re excited to reach the new fans, they are very avid fans that follow sports. They’re fanatical and we’re excited of growing that base here in Orlando, building that awareness and partnering with their other partners like Full Sail that also have such a dynamic esports division.”

Magic Gaming has played in 11 contests already this year, five in the regular season and six in tournaments. It’s the second year the Magic are a part of the NBA 2K League, which features 21 teams and the 126 best players in the world.

The top eight teams will qualify for the playoffs, which start July 24. Finals will be held on Aug. 3.



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