Over the past couple of decades, the sports industry has definitively moved the sporting aspect to the background and turned it into a business. Curling and karate do not define this change, but the example of the most popular team sports is obvious: soccer, American soccer, basketball, hockey, etc. Growing multi-million-dollar contracts, transfers, club marketing, and stars who earn more in advertising than they do per game are all indicators of the new era.
It makes sense that where there is money, there is interest in digital money. Cryptocurrencies are increasingly connected to sports in different ways, having a huge impact on competition, marketing, and especially the business side. It’s not yet visible everywhere, but things are moving toward a colossal scale of mutual integration.
We talk about examples of how crypto has a place in commercial and professional sports in this article.
The most direct way crypto has penetrated the world of sports. Fans own money (including cryptocurrencies) and are willing to pay with it for anything related to the subject of their sports interest. The main thing is that the favorite team provides the opportunity to make payments with cryptocurrencies for official goods and services. The latter fact greatly adds to the prestige of cryptocurrencies in general, once new and new top brands of the sports world join the list of holders.
This has not yet become a common practice, but there are already worthy and positive examples among well-known teams. For example, Portugal’s top soccer club Benfica (Lisbon) is actively selling tickets and merchandise for crypto. The team’s partner is the Utrust platform. Transactions can be made in Bitcoin and Ethereum. The NBA clubs Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks were the first in basketball to allow fans to pay for tickets, parking, food, and paraphernalia with digital money. These are just some of the first examples, and in recent years, the cryptocurrency payment trend has spread to a huge number of clubs in the most popular sports.
Crypto Fan Tokens
Crypto can accompany the interest of sports fans in other ways that are more indirect than direct purchase and sale.
Crypto Fan Tokens is a unique product of the interaction of blockchain ideas and marketing in professional sports. The idea is that a team creates a unique token for fans. People buy tokens and get the right to apply them to buy certain items or privileges. We are talking about fan paraphernalia including exclusives and VIP services. For example, merchandise with autographed stars of the team or unique collectibles. But there’s also a place for intangible benefits such as the ability of exclusive token holders to vote on decisions related to the development of their favorite team. For example, token holders can vote for the team’s player of the year, or approve logo design changes if such an initiative is launched by a club.
The more demand for a token, the more the club’s currency grows in value. That is, the club’s popularity determines how much its exclusive merchandise and voting options cost. Almost all of the major sports teams that take part in such a project collaborate with the specialized platform Socios, which is a component of the Ethereum-based project Chillz. Dozens of the world’s top soccer clubs and some of the most popular teams from other sports are working with Socios.
It only remains to add that projects like this could not have come at a better time in the pandemic and helped sports teams get a new active source of income at a time when traditional sources of income in sports have dried up.
NFT from athletes and clubs
Almost the same as the Crypto Fan Tokens concept Sports stars and ex-stars, as well as clubs, create unique digital objects for fans who can own and collect it, and sell for more expensive prices later.
Standing out in this process is the Sorare platform, a specialized NFT project in soccer. On the platform, you can buy unique digital cards with players of famous teams and create your squads. The cards are exchanged, bought, and sold. The value of the cards depends on the success of the players in real life, and the success of the athletes brings income to the owners of their name cards.
Advertising & brand partnership
Another direct way for the cryptocurrency world to make itself known to sports fans. Large companies in the cryptocurrency world enter into advertising agreements with sports teams, venues, etc. to promote their products and services. For example, several years ago, the Hong Kong trading platform OKEx began cooperating with the English Premier League. As a result, the company’s ads appeared on stadium screens during several matches, including those involving such top clubs with millions of fans around the world as Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool. Another English Premier League club, Wolverhampton Wanderers, entered into an advertising partnership with cryptocurrency exchange CoinDeal in 2018. In the first year, CoinDeal’s revenue and audience growth grew significantly. And it was one of the first such examples.
Cryptocurrencies have a strong impact on sports, as we can see. Somewhere the interaction goes the common way (direct trade, buying ads, NFT), and somewhere fundamentally new models of interaction are invented (Crypto Fan Tokens). Trends like those exclusive club tokens are not becoming decisive for the marketing component of sports, but the movement into a completely different change is obvious. Fans are becoming involved with the objects of their sporting passion in new and deeper ways. Profits in sports are on the rise.