2020 was a difficult year for a sports team. With traditional sources of income like tickets, food and drink, sponsorship, and in some cases decimated TV subscriptions, finding new and creative ways to attract fans has become imperative for clubs to survive.

However, these are not the only challenges clubs face. With the rise of the digital native fan, both the sports and sports industries are being forced to explore more creative ways to maintain fan engagement, reward fan loyalty, and ensure a ROI for sponsors. and combating existing fraud and corruption problems.

When it comes to innovative solutions to solve these challenges, there is one technology in particular that attracts teams’ attention: blockchain.

Below, we’ve looked at four of the most exciting innovations in the sports industry in 2020 and what clubs can do to digitally increase revenue and fan engagement, and to offset some of the losses of last year.

Giving fans a greater share of club decisions

Several large sports organizations – from top soccer clubs like FC Barcelona and Juventus to the National Basketball Association (NBA) – invested in fan tokens based on blockchain technology to motivate their fans and generate profitable new sources of income. The tokens act as the club’s own virtual currency and can be purchased using fiat currencies such as pounds, dollars or euros.

Fans buy their tokens to unlock exclusive rewards and can also use their tokens to collect voting rights on decisions that affect their club, from deciding on the color of the kit to choosing the teams. Last year the Cypriot team Apollon FC allowed fans to vote on the line-up and formation of the games, resulting in a win.

Offers new types of rewards

Aside from voting, these fan tokens can also be exchanged for goods, collectibles or even exclusive experiences on matchday. Those who implemented them in 2020, or even those who invested earlier, have already reaped the rewards.

Take, for example, FC Barcelona, ​​whose first token sale sold out in less than two hours and raised $ 1.3 million. With last year’s revenue from ticket sales, this type of innovation can provide an important new source of income for teams in trouble.

The tokens can also be used for loyalty programs instead of fans paying cash for them. On these platforms, fans can be rewarded for certain things, e.g. B. for creating and sharing content or through loyalty programs that allow them to collect points or rewards that they can spend on goods, tickets and digital collectibles.

Not only do these platforms foster a sense of community among fans, but they can also improve a club’s relationship with sponsors, as loyalty programs backed by a blockchain foundation create a seamless loyalty ecosystem that can include club sponsors and partners. In this way fans can be rewarded for example when they spend money with a sponsor, increase the ROI for sponsors and increase the profits for teams. Due to the transparency and traceability of blockchain technology, both teams and sponsors benefit from a much more precise and detailed detailing of fan behavior.

Digital collectibles

Trading cards and collectibles have always been a profitable source of income for clubs. But a digital age, a lack of ticket sales, and a growing fan base of digital natives (influenced by games and esports) have meant that teams need to diversify and find new ways to attract fans. This means developing and upgrading a traditional source of income into something that is both more profitable and better suited to the digital native fan base.

This is where digital collectibles come in. The clubs have already achieved some success with it. In baseball, for example, major league fans can buy blockchain-based All-Star cards at different prices, which brings new revenue to the club and appeals to a younger audience of sports fans.

By using blockchain (more precisely, NFT technology) to create digital trading cards and memorabilia that fans can buy and trade, clubs can create collectibles with verifiable ownership and authenticity. This means clubs can create demonstrably rare or demonstrably unique digital collectibles (to target collectors and unlock profitable revenue streams) while fans get more ownership and prove the authenticity of their collectibles, eliminating cheating from the equation. This allows clubs to keep up with fans’ changing consumption habits, and means fans can stay connected with teams no matter where they are in the world.

This trend will continue until 2021. Liverpool FC previously announced a partnership earlier this month to develop tradable cards for professional football players that fans can use to play fantasy football games by using the cards to participate in the platform’s weekly competitions.

Extend the viewing experience

It’s important to find ways that fans can feel more involved in live games, even when they can’t be there in person.

As a result, teams have not only used blockchain to digitally motivate fans for the past 12 months. The clubs are working on several innovative ways to provide a more interactive viewing experience for viewers.

For example, in the English Premier League, viewers can choose which perspective they want to watch the game from, including the ball, the umpire or even a specific player, so they can see the game from every angle. Others are testing new technologies with which fans can “cheer” over an app during live games. When fans watch a game, they can press a button to cheer, applaud, or start a chant. Your recorded voice would then be fed into a stadium’s existing speaker system.

With no set return date for fan-filled stadiums, both fan engagement and finding creative ways to monetize the digital fan base for 2021 will continue to be top priorities.

It’s time for sports organizations to revolutionize outdated processes and revitalize their offerings to keep up with the evolving fan base.

In addition to weathering the storm, clubs that can take advantage of the technology can benefit from even more diverse sources of income when ticket sales return.

Lars Rensing

CEO of the Enterprise Blockchain Services Provider

Protocol

Lars Rensing has been in the blockchain industry for more than four years and was initially a co-founder of ARK. Today he is managing director and co-founder of blockchain service provider Protocol for Enterprises, which lowers the barriers to market entry for blockchain and helps companies increase the real value of technology by increasing efficiency, improving cost efficiency and enabling the creation of new value networks.