What Are NFTs and How Are They Being Used in the World of Sports?

One of the best ways to keep sports fans interested in your team is by using modern technology. Pairing with a company like Fanisko will allow you to use the latest tools in the world of gamification and augmented reality to engage with loyal fans. Recently, Fanisko was named in the top 100 AR companies powering Web3 and the Metaverse. 

Perhaps the most important item you will find on Web3 is Non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Below is more information about what NFTs are and how they are being used in the world of sports. 

What Is An NFT?

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a digital asset that acts as a representation of a real-world object. These objects are generally things like videos, in-game items, art and music. These digital assets are bought and sold exclusively online. On average, these transactions are funded with a variety of cryptocurrencies.  

The coding used to construct NFTs generally mimics the code used in the development of cryptocurrencies. However, this is where the similarities between NFTs and cryptocurrencies ends. 

While art has been one of the biggest NFT markets to date, the world of sports is starting to get in on this technology. Many professional sports teams are starting to roll out their own digital collectibles in the form of NFTs. These digital assets allow fans to get something special and allow sports franchises to further monetize their brands. 

Details About How Sports NFTs Work

There are several ways sports teams can and will use NFTs in the future. Here are just a few examples of how this technology can be used by your sports team to make money and engage with loyal fans. 

Selling Video Clips As NFTs

Well-known events like The Miracle on Ice and the Chicago Cubs winning the 2016 World Series have a special place in the hearts of fans. Many sports teams are taking some video clips of the most iconic moments in franchise history and turning them into NFTs. 

A New Take On Sports Memorabilia

For years, collectors have searched for sports memorabilia like awards, autographs and trophies. Taking memorabilia and turning it into NFTs is a fresh take on an old industry. In the future, you are sure to see many sports teams taking a digital approach to memorabilia distribution. 

Sports Kits Are Extremely Popular

Most sports kits include boots, socks, wristbands and jerseys emblazoned with a team’s logos. Putting these kits on the blockchain in the form of an NFT provides buyers with secure ownership rights and the sports team with more money. 

NFT Trading Cards

NFT trading cards can be created on a blockchain. These cards can be more valuable than traditional trading cards due to the scarcity factor. While these digital trading cards are less tangible, they provide buyers with clear ownership. 

As you can see, there are many ways a sports franchise can use NFT technology to boost revenue and engage with fans.

Popular myths associated with Digital Fan Engagement

2020 was surely a challenging as well as interesting year for the sports fraternity across the world. The Covid19 outbreak had posed a completely new challenge for the sports industry with multiple sports events being cancelled, being played behind closed doors without crowds or with limited crowds being allowed in the stadiums

2020 was surely a challenging as well as interesting year for the sports fraternity across the world. The Covid19 outbreak had posed a completely new challenge for the sports industry with multiple sports events being cancelled, being played behind closed doors without crowds or with limited crowds being allowed in the stadiums. 

This challenge posted a new series of questions that sports teams needed to find answers for. Two prominent questions were ‘How do we engage our fans and get them to cheer our team and players remotely’? ‘How would we engage sponsors if there is no in-stadia viewership’? In a nutshell, the answer to these 2 fundamental questions lie in the new buzz word that everyone is talking about – DIGITAL! 

Covid19 has accelerated the Digital Fan Engagement initiatives across the world when it comes to sports teams, leagues and even sponsors. Many teams had heard this term before and also contemplated doing something around it, however since it was never a compelling need. With business continuing as usual, it was always a ‘nice to have’ thing than a ‘must have’ as a part of the team strategy. Some of the teams were far-sighted and adopted to this new trend and strategy much earlier than others and are now reaping rewards for the same. However, even now, it’s not too late to ‘think digital’ and cater to the needs of the modern day fan in a way that they consume sports content. 

Even though Digital is the ‘in-thing’ in today’s sports environment, there are many myths associated with it. Here are some of the popular myths concerned with digital fan engagement in the modern day sports ecosystem:

  1. Digital means social media and content – Social media is just a medium for reaching out to fans, it’s the means to the end but not the end. Social media should be used to engage and funnel your fans into your own platform like a team or league’s own mobile app which has exclusive content that can be monetized with sponsorship elements.  At the end of the day, social media platforms are rented properties that have publicly available content. While it can engage fans at some level, it does not serve the team’s bigger purpose to identify, engage, retain and eventually monetize their fan-base. Having your own digital platform allows your access to fan-data and gives bigger ROI and viewership metrics to sponsors with a proper call to action. 
  1. Fans can only be engaged during game/tournament days – A fan is a fan 24×7 and 365 days a year. By limiting their engagement strategy to tournament or game days only, teams and leagues are missing out on maximizing the opportunity that only digital initiatives can provide. Digital is a platform that allows for gamifying experiences & interactions for fans and also creating unique and immersive experiences through Augmented and Virtual reality platforms. Fans don’t need to wait for game days or tournaments to begin to feel engaged or connected with their favourite teams/leagues/athletes. 
  1. Sponsors would only come if we have enough digital fans – This is a classic case of the ‘Chicken & egg’ story. What comes first, digital sponsors or digital fans? Teams have to think big and futuristic when it comes to digital fan-engagement. Both fans and sponsors would come on-board only if teams innovate and think futuristic with ‘never-seen-before’ kind of experiences. Gone are the days of the traditional sponsorship models of ‘logo slapping’ on the ground, billboards and jerseys. Today’s sponsors demand newer and cooler experiences where they can showcase their brands and also get instant feedback on fan-behaviour and engagement which only digital can offer. 
  1. Digital Fan Engagement would make a team or league rich overnight – Like any other new initiative, digital fan engagement is a structured process. None of the teams which are having digital revenues were able to achieve this overnight or within one season. Fans have to be incrementally introduced to new initiatives and experiences through consistent marketing and touch points that are meaningful to them. There would still be a section of fans who would want to see sports in a stadium environment, the question for the teams would be ‘how can we balance traditional and digital platforms to make the entire game viewing experience more enriching for the fans’? Digital can be used effectively to provide stadium fans much more than what they used to get before. For e.g. Digital ticketing, facial recognition/touchless entry, ordering of snacks through the team’s app with special discounts and offers, augmented reality and other immersive experiences both in-stadium and on the digital platform. 

To conclude, it makes sense to say that ‘Digital fan engagement’ is not a fad of the day, but is here to stay. 
To know more about how we can help teams & leagues digitally engage and monetize their fans, write to us at info@fanisko.com