NFTs are becoming the catalyst for innovation and tech investment in the sports industry.
The numbers show a clear picture. In 2018, the investments in tech in the sports industry reached 4700 million dollars, down to 3200 million dollars in 2019 and 3 500 million dollars in 2020.
But in 2021, investments rose to 12 700 million dollars with NFT companies contributing 5 000 million dollars, almost half of all the investments in tech.
Just to get an idea of the investments of other industries in the sports sector, you have gyms and fitness investments that account for 3400 million dollars last year and betting and fantasy sports with a sum of 1300 million dollars invested in sports.
Betting companies were used to being the primary source of commercial income for many of the best sports franchises in the world. With platforms such as SBO reuniting some of the best bookmakers in the world with free bets, bonuses, and reviews for clients looking to showcase their sports knowledge and give their sports watching experience a new angle.
And now the NFT industry wishes to exploit the same potential there is in fans to offer yet again another layer of ‘fan experience’.
One of the first NFT projects to experience a big success where NBA’s TopShot, created by the company Dapper Labs. TopShot reproduced some of the best highlights from the NBA’s modern era to former glories’ best moments in small video capsules that fans could acquire and trade between them on the platform. Every file is a unique piece with no duplicates available on TopShot’s NFT market.
This has produced a frenzy among fans who can now add an item of digital memorabilia to their collection of game shirts, posters, scarves, trading cards, and others. A single video NFT of Lebron James con cost more than 200 thousand dollars.
Then there are more curious cases like the one of tennis player Oleksandra Oliynykova who “transformed” her body into an actual NFT. She auctioned a spot on her arm were to make a tattoo that could be seen in the best tennis tournaments in the world like Wimbledon or Roland Garros.
Acquiring the right of property for the tattoo NFT doesn’t only make you the owner of a digitalized mark but it entitles the buyer to exclusive access to content by the sportswoman and other benefits such as tickets to games.
Another interesting project is that of Ludo Labs which has launched a collection of NFTs in the form of cartoon football characters. The NFTs entitle holders to the right to participate in raffles for football shirts, competitions to unlock personal experiences with players associated with the project, and game tickets.
Sorare is like TopShot’s NBA one of the fastest-growing NFT projects in the sports industry since being launched in 2019. Since then, they’ve reached the 100-million-dollar mark in sales and 90% of this sum was made in 2021 alone.
Sorare’s project is very similar to the one presented by the NBA. The company has launched digital trading cards comprising footballers. There are very few duplicates of a player, and this makes every tradeable card more valuable. The price of every NFT can even fluctuate according to a player’s performance over the weekend.
But as NFTs are still such a new player in the commercial arena of the sports industry, we can expect a few adjustments in the numbers. Many say that sporting institutions and teams are barely winning a small percentage in the deals they land with NFT companies.
Should this trend continue, the sports industry will have a better intake into the NFT companies gains and could ask for more in exchange.
Up to the moment, NFT deals agreed upon between athletes, teams and institutions are more about the branding, the positioning towards fans, and the objective of portraying modernity rather than focusing on profit.
But this is starting to change as the whole blockchain industry is leaving behind the sign that says “unknown” and everyone is now turning towards them to look for commercial growth.
Earlier this year it was announced that the cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com was landing a deal to rename the Staples Center, home of the LA Lakers, for 700 million dollars. This is the beginning of a long relationship between blockchain technology and the world of sports.