Blockchain technology dramatically revolutionizes the sports industry: from merchandising and ticketing to fans communities and systems of governance and ownership.
Disclosure: The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to the author and do not represent the views and opinions of crypto.news’ editorial.
The arrival of web3 technology can revolutionize many industries, from fashion to art, music, and more. There’s no denying that web3 has the potential to change the sports industry for the better. Web3 can take the sports industry to the next level by allowing for increased ownership, transparency, and autonomy from leveraging smart contracts to sponsorship sign-up on blockchain.
Web3 is also providing numerous opportunities for teams, fans, and athletes alike. Through web3, they can discover new ways to engage through NFTs. These NFT platforms are doing this by harnessing the power of game cards that enable users to set up their own fantasy teams. Through this, players can submit their line-ups for worldwide tournaments, competing against one another, yielding a new way for them to connect with other fans.
This means players can personalize dream matches online using platforms that are backed by significant names in the sports industry. Ultimately, web3 and blockchain technology mean fans can get closer to the action and connect with the game more than ever before. Through web3, fans can interact with their beloved sports athletes and teams in exciting and never seen ways.
For example, digital collectables and blockchain-based fan tokens can be utilized to incentivise fan loyalty and engagement. Fans can utilize these tokens to then participate in contests, and influence team decisions, and polls. This will allow for a more personalized experience for fans and open up a way for a new revenue stream for sports organizations. However, the heightened connection and sense of community offered with the arrival of web3 is just the beginning of how it is transforming the sports industry.
Many sports corporations are already adopting web3 technologies for these exact reasons. A brilliant example is the NBA’s Top Shot. It enables users to buy, collect, sell, and trade NFTs of NBA highlights known as Moments. Top Shot became a particular worldwide phenomenon in October 2020 and reached $45 million in peak sales. June of this year was quite significant because we saw the first-ever Metaverse celebrity boxing match.
Roy Jones Jr. scored an incredible seventh-round stoppage victory over professional bodybuilder Robert Wilmote, also known as NDO Champ. The fight was highly anticipated, marketed as a clash in the metaverse and left fans curious. The boxing match occurred in an unknown location, and they were tracked utilizing motion capture technology. This rendered them as though they were both inside a video game.
Both fighters were then placed in a virtual arena, where they were surrounded by pretend spectators. For boxing particularly, the ability to stream matches in the Metaverse enables users to truly engage in the excitement of the sport and immerse themselves in a captivating virtual environment. Virtual spectators get to watch the match in real-time, share their reactions immediately, and interact with others.
Beyond its current capabilities, metaverse technology could introduce new ways to view the action by harnessing special effects, virtual reality or 3D broadcasts, and custom camera angles. Other businesses, such as blockchain sports, leverage NFT and digital collectables, crafting an entirely new experience for both players and fines. They are creating NFTs for every player in the academy from the beginning and allowing it to update and store players.
This then increases the value of the NFT since every player comes through the ranks into potential European football. There has also been the arrival of digital wearables, which are a major opportunity for sports teams. This was shown by the success of the Epic Games’ sale of wearable units in Fortnite. This revealed the potential for other corporations to shape the digital sports lifestyle and apparel collectables sector.
This move would also drive inclusivity and a feeling of belonging as fans would be able to demonstrate their allegiance to various games or sports and feel a part of virtual communities. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are also revolutionizing sports-based fan clubs and communities due to allowing shared resource pooling. Through this, they are transforming what is traditionally an exclusive sports sector.
It is bringing fans together from across the globe and also improving that sense of connection and community sports fundamentally provide. Blockchain sports, for example, is rolling out its fantasy league so that holders of player NFTs and fans can control their teams. They can also challenge other members.
Web3 technology can also be harnessed to make merchandising and ticketing systems even more robust and secure. These ticketing systems can be more efficient and prevent scalping and fraud, whilst also making sure tickets are resold in decentralized and transparent manners. By the same token, merchandising systems can enable more efficient and seamless transactions between sellers and buyers and ensure the authenticity of products.
The arrival of web3 technologies also benefits athletes as they gain additional control over their careers and are in a better position to monetise their brands. Smart contracts can be utilized for endorsements, sponsorships and between teams and athletes. The development of decentralized marketplaces will also allow them to connect with their fans directly and sell their very own merchandise.
Concerning governance, web3 technology can create a more decentralized and democratic system of governance and ownership in the sports industry. This is particularly the case, in terms of media rights, teams, elite sports properties, and other sports assets. Web3 and related concepts are also moving into esports as start-ups introduce novel web3-related offerings, particularly monetization opportunities for players, teams, and the audience.
According to the 2022 report, the worldwide esports market is expected to reach $12.4 billion by 2030, up from its current amount of $2.5 billion. With the boom, esports leaders are paying attention to the metaverse and recognising the great opportunity of joining this virtual world. There are a lot of upsides to bringing esports into the metaverse, such as economic incentives, decentralization, accessibility, enhanced transparency, engagement and convenience, and the potential to broaden the current range of competitive esports and appeal to new audiences.
Value of the eSports market worldwide in 2023 and 2030 (in billion U.S. dollars) | Source: Statista
With the Metaverse’s visualized capabilities in mind, it could become the hub of 3D entertainment giving esports a leading role in the gaming community. There are lots of ways esports can be brought over to the metaverse. Live esports competitions can be attended in person, but the vast majority watch through a screen. This limits the experience. However, the metaverse can make this experience much more immersive. Blockchain, in particular, would help solve a common problem for the industry: low digital viewership. It does this by rewarding fans for their participation, which has long been a mainstay for physical conferences, conventions, and esports competitions across the globe.
Some companies are already doing this by establishing plug-to-play virtual environments that brands can customize and use to host events. One such offering includes virtual ‘sky boxes,’ which act as online spaces where traditional and esports teams can drive fan engagement and congregate during games. Cryptocurrencies can also become prizes in the virtual world. With play-to-earn concepts in mind, as each virtual asset has distinctive characteristics, esports can use tournaments to create gaming assets and NFTs that are unique and specific to the tournament.
The virtual world has a powerful part to play in traditional sports, and there is a lot that these industries can learn from one another. It is for this reason that the sports industry has begun integrating itself into esports with branching organizations like NBA, NFL, FIFA, and more. Even more are making their way into esports as traditional sports begin to integrate and mix-match the most prominent organizations, brands, celebrities, and players. This crossover is mutually beneficial for both industries. As this continues to happen, both industries will grow.
The metaverse and esports have already begun to overlap, with NFTs and virtual venues driving the way forward. Speaking of traditional sports, cutting-edge technology has already been leveraged to establish a seamless connection between traditional sports and the metaverse. Sports play a traditional role in our world, and with the fragmentation and emergence of different platforms, added with competition from other entertainment industries, the sector is under threat.
To ensure their survival in this competitive and ever-changing world, they need to determine where the user’s attention is heading. The metaverse is the future for a wide range of entertainment, including sports. Some incredible initiatives around this have already been developed. However, what we need is to infuse both esports and traditional sports and bring this infusion over to the metaverse.
Infusing both esports and traditional sports and then pulling all of this into web3 and crafting an AR/MR experience will both enhance the live experience and bring it into the homes and hearts of audiences. Embedding web3 and sports is still at an early point, but there is huge potential here to change the sports industry for the better. Increased revenue streams, decentralization, fan engagement, transparency, and security are just some of the reasons many companies are leveraging web3 in the sports industry and why we can expect to see more of it.