Crypto and Sports Continue to Play Ball
While traders watch for positive signs in the cryptocurrency market to emerge, consider what’s happening in the world of sports. Major leagues across the globe continue to align with blockchains, crypto exchanges and NFTs (non-fungible tokens), creating partnerships designed to meet the needs of their audiences. Make no mistake, the people who run these clubs are savvy marketers who see beyond what is, to what can be. Just look at the recent activity in the major sports league markets.
Manchester City Football Club takes the blockchain plunge
Manchester City, champions of the English Premier League recently expanded its relationship with crypto exchange OKX, which will be its team training kit sponsor for the 2022–23 season. The deal is reportedly worth $20 million.
“Despite the current bear market, it appears that crypto and sports partnerships have been going strong, with fellow EPL team Everton also recently signing a match kit sponsorship with crypto gambling firm Stake,” CoinTelegraph reports. “At the same time, PSG (Paris St. Germain Football Club) has also launched preseason non-fungible token tickets.”
Earlier this year, Manchester United announced its partnership with blockchain Tezos, which will sponsor its training kits as well.
National Hockey League Jumps in during June
The National Hockey League announced in June it’s launching a collectibles initiative with NFT platform Sweet.
“The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), the National Hockey League (NHL®), the NHL Alumni Association (NHLAA) and non-fungible token (NFT) distribution platform Sweet today announced a new multiyear partnership naming Sweet the Official NFT Digital Collectibles Marketplace and an Official NFT partner of the NHL, NHLPA and NHLAA,” the NHL press release said.
“The Sweet-operated NHL marketplace will focus on providing the entire community of NHL fans and collectors with a unique and valuable engagement experience through the opportunity to buy, sell, collect and trade never-before-offered pieces of NHL history.”
Crypto fuels NBA sponsorships
The NBA experienced a surge in sponsorships during its past season, thanks to crypto companies. “Cryptocurrency companies helped fuel the NBA’s sponsorship revenue to a record $1.6 billion in the 2021–22 season, according to estimates by IEG, a sports partnerships consultancy,” CNBC reports. “That’s up 13% from the $1.4 billion in the 2020–21 season.”
The biggest score was a multi-year partnership with crypto trading platform Coinbase, which was announced in October, making Coinbase “the exclusive cryptocurrency platform partner of the NBA, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), NBA G League, NBA 2K League and USA Basketball.
“The deal, which marks the first cryptocurrency platform partnership for each league, will consist of unique content, innovations, activations and experiences from Coinbase to educate fans on the increasing advancements happening across the crypto economy,” NBA sports said in its announcement.
NFL’s Dallas Cowboys partners with Blockchain.com
In April, Blockchain.com and the Dallas Cowboys announced their official partnership, which was heralded as a first for National Football League. “Today, Jerry Jones and I announced that Blockchain.com is the official digital asset partner for the Dallas Cowboys,” Peter Smith, Blockchain.com CEO and co-founder wrote. “We’re making history with the first-ever crypto partnership with an NFL team, which also happens to be America’s Team.”
According to the Cowboys’ press announcement, “As the first-ever national pro sports deal for Blockchain.com, the agreement will include extensive branding, advertising, content, and event opportunities. More specifically, the deal includes club space inside AT&T Stadium, rights to social/digital integrations, highly visible signage within the stadium bowl, as well as extensive TV, radio, and digital advertising. The partnership will also create ways for fans to quickly access Dallas Cowboys content and their Blockchain.com Wallet.”
Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones was all in with the partnership. “When you have a chance to really delve into the kind of future that you have in the digital world, I wanted the Dallas Cowboys to be a part of that future in any and every way we could,” he said at the time.
The deal was announced well in advance of the crypto meltdown in May. Currently, Blockchain.com is mired in controversy with the Three Arrows Capital debacle. Blockchain.com is a creditor of Three Arrows, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection. CEO Smith said the company could lose $270 million if it defaults on loans from blockchain.com.
As the digital currency world awaits the return to a more vibrant market, the sports industry continues to show its support for the rising tide of acceptance and excitement of the blockchain-based world that is eliciting excitement from fans everywhere. A bright spot in seemingly troubled times across the globe, these sports partnerships may pave the way for further crypto acceptance.
Joyce Pavia Hanson