How Sports and NFTs are Changing the Fan Experience

The combination of sports and NFTs are changing the way sports fans are interacting with their favorite teams and players

For sports fans, things just got a bit more interesting as many different sports and sports leagues are entering the metaverse. From European football to American football to the NBA and more, sports are using NFTs to reach their audiences in new ways. With new merchandise and tickets for fans to purchase, NFTs may shift some of the profits that sports generate.

European Football (Soccer)

Sports and NFTs are collaborating successfully in the European football league. Many UK football clubs are eyeing NFTs to expand their fanbase and allow sports fans to interact further with their favorite teams. FC Barcelona is another club looking into NFTs. Hailed as one of the most influential clubs in Spain and Europe, FC Barcelona may set a new trend for others to follow when looking at metaverse technology. According to club president Joan Laporte: “In recent times there has been a lot of attention to blockchain products and services such as NFTs and metaverse. We should be able to offer digital products to our members, our fans that will align with the value of the club and generate a very interesting emotional experience.” FC Barcelona has announced its first NFT drop soon, but there are no further details.

In the UK, the Chelsea Football Club, one of the most popular clubs, has expanded into the metaverse in a different way, through virtual reality. A new 3D, virtual tour has been launched where fans can tour the stadium and even purchase seats. This experience offers fans a new method of feeling like they’re actually on the pitch while enjoying the comfort of their own homes.

American Football

Across the pond, the National Football League (NFL) is beginning to make significant changes to the fan experience. Only recently did they encourage advertising for sports betting, causing the rise of a host of betting companies, like FanDuel or DraftKings. These betting companies are now turning to NFTs to take the process to a new level. In a recent press release, DraftKings announced a partnership with the NFL to launch exclusive NFTs for the 2022-2023 season. DraftKings plans to hold the licensing rights for NFL athletes as the NFTs will be minted to look like the player, including their name and image. Customers will be able to collect these NFTs using the DraftKings platform. Senior vice president of product operations for DraftKings Marketplace, Beth Beiriger stated: “The future of fandom is unfolding in front of us, and few organizations beyond DraftKings are as equipped to capitalize on the increasing intersection between sports and NFTs that will be the cornerstones of engagement and entertainment within Web3.”

American Basketball

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has an elaborate platform for NFT trading. Called NBA Top Shot, the platform hosts one of the largest cryptocurrency trading games. The game allows players to trade “moments”, tiny video clips of famous NBA plays sold as NFTs. These “moments” are sold in packs, similar to sports trading cards. Currently, Top Shot is the fifth-largest NFT platform, generating over $886 million in sales. As other sports are developing NFT projects, Top Shot will no doubt face fierce competition.

Other sports like Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) or Major League Baseball (MBA) are now looking into developing NFTs to grow their fanbase. Even popular athletes like Serena Williams and Tom Brady are promoting NFT products. The NFT craze doesn’t end there though, as sports tickets are being paired with NFTs, like the tickets for Superbowl LVI. While the combination of sports and NFTs has already begun, there is no question that it will continue with great success and shift the sports fanbase significantly in years to come.

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Castleberry is the Science Communicator at JILA (formerly known as the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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