Date of Award

Summer 8-13-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Kinesiology and Health

First Advisor

Beth Cianfrone

Second Advisor

Timothy Kellison

Third Advisor

Rebecca Ellis

Fourth Advisor

Soon-Ho Kim

Abstract

Esport, which consists of video game competitions that fans can watch remotely or attend, is a rapidly growing industry. Although there is trepidation among traditional sport organizations about embracing esport, the popularity of esport with young consumers makes it attractive to sport practitioners. Some traditional sport entities have started to embrace esport. Specifically, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has made a concerted effort to incorporate esport into its brand. Certain NBA franchises (e.g., the Philadelphia 76ers) manage esport teams (e.g., 76ers GC) that compete in the NBA 2K League. The NBA esport teams consist of athletes/gamers who play NBA2K, a sport video game, and compete against other teams in the NBA 2K League. The NBA esport teams therefore act as brand extensions of each NBA franchise (the parent brand). Brand extensions are a common brand management strategy in sport; however, esport brand extensions of a traditional sport parent brand have yet to be studied. The purpose of this research was to test a brand extension model to examine (1) factors that may determine consumers’ esport brand extension evaluations, (2) the relationship between evaluations and extension brand equity, and (3) the impact of identification on extension brand equity. As esport is likely to continue to grow in size and popularity, there is a practical need for sport practitioners to understand esport as a brand extension strategy to attract esport fans and consumers to the parent brand. Furthermore, despite an abundance of brand extension research there are inconsistencies in the theoretical explanations and dimensions that determine how consumers evaluate brand extensions. To assess the practicality of an esport brand extension strategy in traditional sport, and to assess differing theoretical explanations of the factors that influence consumer evaluations of brand extensions, this study examined how potential consumers responded to an esport brand extension of an individual NBA franchise that joined the NBA 2K League in 2019. Surveys were electronically distributed to potential respondents who are representative of the parent brand’s target market and of the overall esport market. A conceptual model was tested using structural equation modeling (SEM) to determine the relationships between these factors.

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