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Yearender 2021: Transforming Fandom, How This Year Has Been Fantastic For Sports NFTs

Sports NFTs are becoming a rage. If it’s NBA and NFL in the USA, cricket is catching the imagination of digital collectors who love to buy, brag and bargain. Here is a year-end 2021 review.

Yearender 2021: Transforming Fandom, How This Year Has Been Fantastic For Sports NFTs
Digital collectibles are redefining sports fandoms. NFTs are rapidly becoming a part of overall fan engagement. | Composite: Gaurav Raj Thakur/Voax
Yearender 2021: Transforming Fandom, How This Year Has Been Fantastic For Sports NFTs
outlookindia.com
2021-12-29T10:59:23+05:30

We live in a world where our digital identity matters a lot and the much talked about metaverse is getting to be more and more a reality. Our personal brand is represented by this digital identity. What we watch, what we share, who we follow all add up to form our persona in the digital space. (More Sports News)

In a parallel comparison, sports are also part of our identity. Our preference and connection with a certain sport, team or athlete says a lot about who we are. For billions of fans, their love for sports is an intrinsic part of their personality.

READ: NFT Is Collins Dictionary's Word Of Year

So, it was inevitable for both these worlds to collide and that is what the year 2021 has shown us in the form of sports NFTs. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) seem to have exploded this year and have taken the worlds of art, gaming and sports by storm.

In simple terms, an NFT is a digital asset, implies that it is completely unique with clarity on who owns it, enabled by blockchain and cannot be directly replaced with something else.

The key value of NFT is authenticity as each NFT contains verified transaction data, helping to demonstrate the history of ownership, as data on the blockchain is immutable.

NFTs are gaining traction in the sports industry in the form of digital collectibles, fan tokens, digital trading cards, signed sports memorabilia to ticketing and gaming; bringing huge benefits for sports fans as well as the entire sports ecosystem.

BUT NATURAL

Buy, brag, bargain – all these are essential human traits which take form in a collectables’ ecosystem. The same basic fundamental holds for sports NFTs as well.

ALSO READ: Will Any Upcoming Cryptocurrency Regulation Affect NFTs In India?

This natural collision of the digital and sporting world has given birth to an NFT market growing at lightning speed. In 2021 alone over USD 13 Billion bn NFTs have been sold out of which USD 1 Billion is within the sports NFTs space. One thing that explains this quick adoption of sports NFTs is what they offer to fans of sports. They have transformed fandom and given a lot more power, ownership and a new avenue for someone to connect, own and share their fandom.

MADE FOR EACH OTHER

There are success case points of NFTs in sports like basketball and football. NFTs entering the massive world of cricket, representing over 2.6 billion fans, is a natural progression given the scale of fans following the sport as well as standard engagement via fan merchandise and experience has historically been very low.

NFTs have the ability not only to enable fans but to also enable the sport to engage more deeply with its audience. If one truly realises the potential of NFTs for sport and specifically cricket, there are some extremely positive game changing considerations.

No way has a cricket fan prior to this had an experience of the sport much beyond the confines of the broadcast screen. With NFTs they can participate, own and exchange their favourite cricketing moments and have a piece of that sport to call their own.

The deep penetration and move to the mobile screen have led to a rapid and early adoption of cricket NFTs in India as well as other cricket-watching nations. An accessible entry price gives NFTs the nostalgia value of player cards which we all have indulged in as children.

This kind of a cricket metaverse of players and iconic cricketing moments curated as NFTs has also had a positive impact on innovative fan engagement and growing viewership of certain leagues basis our experience.

Rario, for example, has partnered with Caribbean Premiere League, Abu Dhabi T10 and Lanka Premiere League in the recent few months. We have been able to curate incredible content in the form of these NFTs from these series and have found an overwhelming response from fans, who are following the series intently and are in turn looking to own these special moments from the leagues.

FUELLING A CLUB CULTURE

Developing a club culture in sports is essential for it to penetrate the fabric of our daily lives. Physical leagues, city events have played their roles in certain sports, specially observing the American and Canadian markets for basketball, NFL and MLB. However, given today’s reality, the club culture and day-to-day connect with fans can be effectively digitised with NFTs and online interaction among users.

We can draw a parallel here to the Indian mobile revolution. There was a time in India, where getting a landline phone connection was a challenge, today we have the most cost-effective and abundant use of mobile phones in the country. With every new technology, change has mindboggling. The same is true for sports.

Integration of sports with technology has brought about a new era of fandom with NFTs. Fans are now participants by owning an NFT card in a cricket metaverse and can actually participate with the same. Our own developed platform - the Rario Premiere League - allows for card holders to form teams, take decisions, and engage with the sport in a deeply immersive form.

Digital collectibles are accessible in terms of price points and physical ease of being able to participate. This is the other side of fan engagement.

In conclusion from a bird’s eye view, 2020 was the year of crypto, 2021 was the year it took off to an exponential growth in India and the rest of the world. Similarly, 2021 was the year of NFTs and we expect 2022 will see a surge and exponential growth in adoption basis current trends and projections.

Charts & Data Pointers

Talking Point 1: Sports NFTs were the catalyst for NFT Revolution in 2021

Data Source: https://cryptoslam.io

For Sports NFTs we have considered: NBA Top Shot, SoRare, Topps and F1 Delta Time

*Data till 16th December, 2021

Key Pointers:

  • Sports NFTs contributed more than 60% of overall NFT sales volume in Q1 of 2021 (501 m of 805m), adding credibility to the overall NFT market
  • This opened up opportunities for other NFT projects to enter mainstream market, pushing the total trading value to $ 15.8 B (Jan-Nov’21)

 

Talking Point 2: Sports NFT is the gateway to mass adoption

Data Source: https://cryptoslam.io

For Sports NFTs we have considered: NBA Top Shot, SoRare, Topps and F1 Delta Time

*Data till December 16, 2021

Key Pointers:

  • Even with a 5% contribution to overall sales volume, Sports NFTs contribute 25% to the total no. of transactions
  • Now, with more utilities that are being developed on top of Sports NFTs (gaming, access to players, fan tokens, etc.), we will see mass adoption in the sports fan base
  • For sports fans, the NFTs are a part of overall fan engagement – conversations, trades, games and looking for a way to connect to their favourite teams and players. 
  • The utilities and connections that sports NFTs drive set it apart from the visual/aesthetic based art/pop-culture NFTs

 With Indian users warming up to blockchain use-cases, the 2 billion + global fan base of Cricket will define the future of Sports NFTs.

(An IITian from Delhi, the author is a serial entrepreneur, building an NFT business for cricket in India. Views are personal)

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