*This was originally posted December 17, 2021*
You may be reading the title and wondering what those words even mean and in a digital landscape, the world moves and changes quickly.
That digital or virtual world is continuously growing and being more immersive.
What are NFTs?
NFTs are Non-Fungible Tokens that can be images, videos, music, social media posts, blogs, or even books. Anything that can be a completely unique, non-interchangeable digital collector item that is stored on a digital ledger called a blockchain.
These tokens can be transferred and sold by owners like virtual property. You can share them or sell them but they can not be duplicated and that is where the rarity of the item comes from.
Each NFT minted is a verifiably unique asset that is worth as much as someone’s willing to pay for it. With some experts warning that over half of all art on the market is likely fake, the risks of investing in physical art are great. NFTs offer a solution to this, offering artists a way to prove provenance and establish a chain of ownership using the blockchains ledger. This makes NFTs immutable, resistant to theft, impossible to forge and easily trackable.
These tokens can be purchased with cryptocurrencies or with traditional currencies.
NFTs can also open the doors to further opportunities through communities or groups formed from ownership. For example, the Seattle Kraken who are releasing their first series of NFTs in partnership with Orange Comet on December 20, shared this in their release announcement:
“There will be unique real-world opportunities for fans to win tickets to Kraken games, behind-the-scenes experiences and autographed jerseys-all connected to the NFTs.”
This is where the NHL and other sports have a truly unique ability to expand their brand and revenue streams into the digital space.
So far, only the New York Islanders have entered this space and have done so with tremendous success. The Kraken will follow with NFTs that commemorate their inaugural season. Other teams and leagues will continue to venture into the digital world and in doing so, should delve deeper into that immersive experience rather than simply sharing artwork or moments.
One opportunity could be sharing NFTs that are a combination of intense images and designs along with video that time capsules a moment. This is the new frontier for sports memorabilia and having digital hockey cards that can not be duplicated or replicated in any way can quickly become a valuable asset in an investment portfolio. Let alone the opportunities for contests, tickets, and physical merchandise as well.
For more information around the Seattle Kraken NFT release and what NFTs are, you can read further here: Riding the New Wave of Sports Memorabilia (nhl.com)
What about the Metaverse?
According to Facebook Founder and newly renamed Meta Platforms CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, the metaverse is “an interconnected digital world that interacts with the physical world”. These would include Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and social media.
Much akin to immersive life simulator games, the Metaverse allows people to interact with others in a virtual space.
Zuckerberg and Meta Platforms have recently invested over $10 Billion in creating the metaverse to go alongside the rebrand. Even the Korean city of Seoul announced significant plans revolving around this new frontier.
Seoul is the first governmental agency to launch a metaverse platform and plan to do so in order to create a contactless communicative channel to deal with the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. This initiative is slated to launch in 2022. Residents of Seoul will be able to interact with healthcare and government officials, politicians and even visit City Hall. They hope to be able to hold end of year festivities in this virtual space as well.
So what opportunities could that create in sports?
It gives you the opportunity to sell even more tickets to exclusive events as well as potentially sell beyond what an in-arena capacity is. With continued uncertainty and restrictions around attendance in games, you can offer fans an alternative. They can experience being at the game all while being at home and safely socially distancing or isolating.
This would also open up the possibilities for fans that are out of market or further out from the team’s home city to experience the action, interact with fellow fans, and enjoy the atmosphere of being at the arena.
With the rapid advancements being made in the virtual spaces, it would be a savvy business investment for the NHL and other major sporting leagues to build and cultivate eco-friendly NFT generation and immersive metaverse platforms.
The world is changing and the pandemic has brought a lot of financial strains upon the sports industry as a whole. Finding and creating new, innovative ideas to attract and interact with clientele would help unearth limitless potential.
The Seattle Kraken are starting the prices for their NFTs at $50 but the price of these NFTs are however much people are willing to pay to attain them. Essentially auctioning these one-a-kind assets off.
Selling at Christies in March 2021, Beeple’s Everydays is the most valuable NFT to date, netting the artist an enormous $69.3 million. Comprising a mosaic of his work since 2007, the piece is an epic testament to the strength of the NFT market.
That is revenue that is hard to ignore for a league that has recently started to add advertisements to player helmets to help offset the losses from pandemic shortened seasons.
What do you think an NFT of Canucks captain being minted as Captain could be worth? Elias Pettersson winning the Calder? Quinn Hughes being drafted? What if they also had interviews or comments embedded inside from those moments?
I can’t help but think of the value of an NFT with a young Roberto Luongo winning Olympic Gold at home in Vancouver and hearing his thoughts on it at that moment.
You can easily see the rarity and value these types of assets would have for not just collectors and investors but also the growth potential for fans, events, and venues.