Fandom in a Bitcoin World

January 21, 2021 – There is no doubt that this current pandemic has caused tectonic shifts in the plates beneath us. That unsettling feeling relates to the physical-to-digital revolution. Whether it’s the frictionless commute in a Lyft or tap technology that facilitates our morning coffee, our comfort level with the digitization continues to rise.

Take Bitcoin for example. It has moved from fringe concept to centre stage. I don’t know about you, but I failed to listen to the early champions like the Facebook famous Winklevoss twins and Canadian visionary Chamath Palihapitiya who predicted the rise of digital currency due to its superior security and ease of transferability.

Gen Z gets it. And I’m finally starting to see the light. As physical money fades away while we continue to transact digitally, the question is what other physical items will translate as well to the digital world?

Look no further than the world of collectibles. Will Canadian fans be opening digital packs of Tim Hortons’ hockey cards and trading them virtually in the near future? If the NBA’s early success in this space is any indication, the answer is a resounding yes!

Nothing short of brilliant is the best way to describe the NBA’s development of a much-needed incremental revenue stream through the creation of Top Shot with its licensee partner Dapper Labs. For as little as $9.00, fans are able to buy a digital pack containing three player “cards”, each showcasing a shot…a video “moment”. Are these assets safe from the perspective of ownability? Yes – using blockchain technology, each of these non-fungible tokens is serialized and secure.

The NHL, NFL and MLB along with other leagues are no doubt paying attention and likely have similar plans to monetize their IP and leverage their relationships with their players, their sponsors and their fans. And why wouldn’t they based on these early indicators of future success from the NBA use case:

  • 2500 people are actively engaged on the NBA Top Shot Discord Site on any given minute
  • A Lebron James dunk moment sold on the after market earlier this week for $47,000 (a market that nets the NBA an incremental 5% fee)
  • 225,000 peer-to-peer transactions have occurred in just the first few months of operation
  • Over $11M in transactions have already taken place with exponential growth on the horizon

This may be a new concept that will take time to digest, but let’s embrace change, not fear it. Let’s leverage the physical-to-digital transformation to benefit our businesses. It’s a Bitcoin world and fandom in that world looks different. Gen Z consumes sports in ways we couldn’t have imagined: snack-sized highlights, fantasy teams, online gaming, and yes, trading digital moments. The digital train has left the station – expect other rights holders to jump on board.

About the Author: Steven Lewis is the Co-Founder of XMC, Canada’s Official Sponsorship and Experiential Marketing Agency. He is also the Chair of the Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada.