THE ADVENT OF WEB3 IN SPORT
From the inception of the internet to the development of Web 2.0, technology has vastly shaped how we interact with sports. Now, as we embark on the age of Web3, or the decentralized web, the sports world is bracing itself for yet another transformative shift. This shift is being catalyzed by blockchain technology and the rise of tokenization, manifesting through fan tokens, metaverse games, interactive experiences, and a radical overhaul of ticketing systems. In this article, we explore how Web3 is changing the face of the sports world.
Fan Tokens: A New Level of Fan Engagement
Fan tokens, or crypto assets that allow holders to participate in the ecosystem of a sports team or individual athlete, have seen a sharp rise in popularity. The concept of fan tokens was popularized by blockchain platforms such as Chiliz through their Socios.com platform, which partners with football teams like FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, and Juventus.
These tokens empower fans by giving them voting rights on certain club decisions and access to exclusive rewards. For example, holders of FC Barcelona’s Barca Fan Tokens ($BAR) recently had the opportunity to decide on the design of the team’s dressing room. Such a level of fan engagement was previously unheard of, positioning fan tokens as a game-changing facet of the sports industry.
The Metaverse: A New Playground
The metaverse has emerged as a new frontier for the sports world, blending the boundary between the physical and the digital. Here, fans can participate in virtual games, attend events, and even meet their favorite athletes.
Recently, the NBA has been at the forefront of exploring the metaverse. In the NBA Top Shot platform, fans can purchase, trade, and collect officially licensed NBA highlight clips, which they own through blockchain’s unique non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NBA teams are even hosting virtual events within platforms like Decentraland, where fans can watch games together and interact with others from around the world.
Interactive Experiences: Beyond Watching the Game
Web3 is not only facilitating a more immersive engagement for fans but also creating more interactive experiences. As an example, Formula 1, in partnership with Animoca Brands, launched F1 Delta Time – a blockchain game that enables fans to own, trade, and race NFTs representing cars, drivers, and components.
Moreover, the MLB has ventured into the AR (Augmented Reality) realm through the MLB AR app, which allows fans to view statistics and data layered onto the live game they are watching. Although not purely a Web3 technology, this demonstrates the direction that sports is heading in, combining new technologies to create more immersive and interactive experiences.
Ticketing: More than Just a Seat
Perhaps one of the most significant areas of transformation is ticketing. Blockchain technology is being leveraged to tackle issues such as counterfeiting and secondary market scalping.
Consider YellowHeart, a blockchain-powered ticketing platform which has recently partnered with the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers. This platform aims to bring transparency and fairness to the ticketing process by preventing scalping and ensuring tickets are distributed at the intended price.
In a more innovative approach, some sports franchises are tokenizing tickets into NFTs, offering more than just access to the event. For example, the Sacramento Kings NBA team recently offered an NFT ticket that also came with a special VIP experience. Such an approach to ticketing can provide fans with unique experiences, additional value, and greater incentive to attend live games.