How Professional Sports Brands Are Using Crypto to Boost Fan Engagement

Siamak Masnavi

For some time now, professional sports brands, just like other brands, have been exploring the use of crypto for increasing fan engagement. This article looks at a few interesting examples.

American Football

On July 12, the Litecoin Foundation announced that Litecoin (LTC) had become the “Official Cryptocurrency of the Miami Dolphins.” This collaboration, which will be launch at the start of the 2019 National Football League (NFL) season, will give Litecoin "the ability to tap into one of the NFL’s largest and most passionate fan bases through in-game branding and advertising opportunities at Hard Rock Stadium, as well as inclusion across the team’s various online properties and digital content."

The press release also mentioned that the Miami Dolphins, Litecoin Foundation, and Aliant Payments (a Florida-based payments processor) were joining forces to "give home game attendees the ability to pay with Litecoin and Bitcoin when purchasing tickets for the team’s 50/50 raffle, where half of the proceeds benefit the Miami Dolphins Foundation and its charitable causes."

Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin and the managing director of the Litecoin Foundation, had this to say:

We’re thrilled to see Litecoin become the official cryptocurrency of the Miami Dolphins. This collaboration propels Litecoin in front of an audience of millions of people around the world at a time where adoption of cryptocurrencies continues to gain momentum and the ecosystem is able to support real world use cases in ways previously not possible. We see this as a powerful way to raise awareness and educate people about Litecoin and cryptocurrencies on a tremendous scale.

Basketball

On July 15, The Cleveland Cavaliers (aka "The Cavs"), an American professional basketball team based in Cleveland, Ohio that competes in the National Basketball Association (NBA), as well as its affiliated esports club Cavs Legion GC (NBA2KL), announced that they had "partnered with cryptocurrency blockchain provider UnitedCoin," and that this partnership would bring "awareness to the UnitedCoin brand and platform, while providing the Cavs with a resource to capitalize on the burgeoning financial technology landscape."

UnitedCoin is "a multicurrency transaction platform that uses blockchain technology... to offer members a fully-regulated and insured service where they can trade crypto and traditional currencies."

As a result of this partnership, UnitedCoin becomes the “Official Cryptocurrency Partner” of Cavs Legion, which means brand visibility on the team’s social media channels and virtual home court during gameplay in the NBA 2K League. The partnership "also includes LED signage inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse during Cavs games and other branding opportunities throughout team activation and content during the upcoming 2019-20 season."

Nic Barlage, the Cavaliers president of business operations, said at the time:

As decentralized technology continues to evolve, we know it is important for us to stay ahead of the curve and plan for how it will impact our fan experience and business as we move forward. We are happy to team up with UnitedCoin, a like-minded company motivated by innovative technology to help us do that and are excited about how this partnership will bring blockchain technology to life for our fans.

Kickboxing

On 27 December 2018, the Litecoin Foundation said that it had become the first crypto sponsor for an event organized by mixed martial arts promotion company Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC): UFC 232 (JONES vs. GUSTAFFSON 2), which was the "main event rematch between former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones against UFC light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson" (this took place on 29 December 2018).

Two months later (on February 26), the Litecoin Foundation issued a press release that told the world that it had partnered with Glory Kickboxing ("GLORY"), which operates one of the world's premier professional kickboxing leagues, as the result of which Litecoin becomes the league's official cryptocurrency.

The press release went on to say that:

  • Litecoin is now accepted as a payment method on GLORYshop.com, Glory Kickboxing’s online merchandise platform, thereby making Glory Kickboxing the first professional sports league to integrate Litecoin into the end-to-end fan experience.
  • Glory Kickboxing fans in the U.S. and Europe would soon be able to access "exclusive offers, including athlete meet-and-greets, backstage arena tours, limited-edition merchandise and premium in-arena seating" only if they purchased these at GLORYshop.com with Litecoin.
  • Litecoin would "receive global exposure across GLORY events, broadcast and social media."

Soccer 

On June 6, Verdict reported that Sport Lisboa and Benfica (aka "S.L. Benfica", aka "SLB", aka "Benfica"), via a partnership with crypto payment processor UTRUST, had become the first major European soccer team to allow its fans to pay for tickets and merchandize with crypto. SLB is the most decorated and the most popular sports club in Portual.

The report said that SLB's over 14 million fans throughout the world can pay using Bitcoin (BTC) or Ether (ETH) "across the whole range of products available on Benfica’s online store."

SL Benfica CEO Domingos Soares de Oliveira had this to say about the partnership:

This is an exciting day in the history of S.L. Benfica as we announce our decision to accept cryptocurrency payments. We recognise that many of our supporters are now digital users first, so we want to be ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting novel technologies and giving our supporters the best online experience.

 

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com