NFTs and the future of fan engagement: How NFTs can boost engagement with sports brands

NFTs and the future of fan engagement: How NFTs can boost engagement with sports brands


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By: Evgeniy Babitsyn, Chief Marketing Officer,

The sport industry finds itself amidst its own digital transformation journey with the introduction of new technologies, and at the forefront of this digital shift are NFTs – otherwise known as Non-Fungible Tokens.

NFTs can represent any kind of digital item, and in recent years have commonly been used for quirky collectibles and art work – but they now enter the sports arena in a unique way. The beauty of NFTs is the unique metadata and ownership information which is tracked via blockchain, making them a one-of-a-kind digital collectible that cannot be duplicated. As a result of their collectible nature, it’s only natural that NFTs caught the eyes of eager sports enthusiasts and die-hard fans.

In fact, according to Deloitte research, around 40% of Gen Z and millennial sports fans are at least somewhat familiar with the use of NFTs and fan tokens in sports.

But why is that? And how can they boost engagement?

NFTs are rapidly emerging as a powerful tool for sports brands in driving deeper fan engagement and unlocking new revenue streams. This is because sports fans are, by nature, competitive and eager to own exclusive content from their much loved players, teams and brands. They want to be part of the action.

By playing on this feeling, and reinforcing loyalty among fans in this way, sports brands have a huge opportunity to take their revenue streams to new heights and gain a competitive advantage over other brands.

Imagine an athlete releases a limited-edition NFT that represents the most iconic moment in their career, such as the winning shot or a record breaking performance. Fans who own that NFT can then access exclusive content related to that moment including behind-the-scenes footage or interviews.

There really is no limit to these tokens, and depending on the asset, they can be much sought after. As more and more sports fans embrace the digital tokens, sports brands are quickly learning that there is huge potential for fan engagement, if they continue to innovate with this technology.


Taking collectibles to the 21st Century

Sports memorabilia and collectibles have for centuries been a way for fans to feel more connected to their favourite teams and athletes. And now thanks to the advances of technology – more specifically, blockchain technology – fans can collect within the digital realm, gaining access to truly “own” unique digital items and experiences.

Beyond just digital art or collectibles, NFTs can also integrate the idea of gamification, exclusive content and experiences into their NFTs – allowing fans to engage more actively while unlocking new revenue opportunities.

The possibilities are endless, extending far beyond just digital collectibles. They can provide fans with access to exclusive digital or in-person experiences, events and merch as well. Think front row seats or the chance for a meet and greet post-game.

With this, NFTs provide an excellent way for brands to diversify their revenue streams by monetising their content and intellectual property strategically.

It really is win-win, fans can own a piece of their favourite team’s history while supporting their team financially. And sports brands can benefit from more loyal fans.


Transforming the fan experience

Engagement is everything to sports brands. After all, the fans are really the most important stakeholders in the end. And offering NFTs can be a powerful tool in fostering deeper engagement within fan communities. NFTs provide more innovative ways for fans to connect, prove their loyalty and gain recognition for their allegiance.

Let’s look at NBA Top Shot. NBA Top Shot is the perfect example of a blockchain-based platform that allows fans to own and collect officially licensed NBA collectibles digitally. The platform offers exclusive collectibles including videos of the biggest NBA moments and highlights.

And football teams are also following suit. Manchester City, PSG, FC Barcelona have all joined in on the NFT hype – offering their own NFT collections for keen supporters such as worn jerseys, trophies and more.


Sports Betting and NFTs

And when it comes to sports betting, NFTs take the iGaming experience to the next level. Fans can purchase NFTs that represent specific bets, such as the winner of a particular game or the performance of a specific player. These NFTs can then be traded or sold, just like other NFTs, providing a new level of flexibility and excitement for betting.

The use of NFTs in the sports industry is still in its early stages, but has already shown great potential. We can expect more applications to come in the world of sports – including at Watch this space.

Looking ahead, the future is incredibly promising for sports brands who leverage NFTs within their business operations. Those who embrace these new powerful ways to inspire fans and forge deeper relationships with their communities, will see their efforts translate into business value.

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