Crypto and Sports
Sports sponsorships have long been a tried and tested method of increasing brand awareness and engagement. The billions worldwide who either regularly attend sporting events or watch them from the comfort of their homes often have unwavering loyalty to a particular team or sport. In light of the fanaticism in sports, companies have spent millions trying to channel that same enthusiasm towards their brands. Recently, many high-profile examples of collaborations between sports entities and major corporations have been from the cryptocurrency and blockchain sectors. As these companies seek further mainstream awareness, at a time when interest in blockchain is already on the rise, they have looked to previous successful relationships between sports and major corporations as an example.
Since its inauguration in 1930, the FIFA World Cup has been one of the world’s most popular international sporting events. The 2018 final between Croatia and France had an average live viewership of 517 million, with more than 1.1 billion viewers throughout the 90-minute match. Considering the significant number of fans tuning in, it is no surprise that some of the world’s most prominent companies, including Coca-Cola, Hyundai/Kia, and Wanda, have previously sponsored the tournament. In a move that’s perhaps an indicator of the growing status of the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry, Crypto.com has been unveiled as the sponsor of the 2022 World Cup set to take place in Qatar between November and December 2022. The collaboration between the Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange app and FIFA will introduce fans worldwide to Crypto.com in particular and the world of cryptocurrency in general.
Elsewhere in the world of football, the two most successful clubs in English football, Liverpool and Manchester United, have taken their first steps into the world of blockchain. In inking a multi-year deal with Tezos to sponsor their training kits, Man United plan on “introducing fans to Web3 technology via the Tezos blockchain”. With over 135 million followers across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, the Manchester-based team’s massive reach will help increase global awareness of the Swiss blockchain company. Second, only to Manchester United in terms of the most supported English teams, Liverpool FC announced the launch of an official NFT collection in March. Entitled LFC Heroes club, the collection features illustrations of 24 LFC men’s squad members. The club described the collection as “A fun and innovative way to celebrate being a Reds fan,” claiming that it is “Dedicated to making NFTs accessible to its entire fanbase.” Despite their on-pitch rivalry, these two off-field ventures into the blockchain industry could see the two giants of English football help bring awareness of the sector to the masses that support them.
Going from one global sport to another, the latest season of Formula 1 has seen most teams striking sponsorship deals with crypto companies. Interest in F1 is on the rise; research from analytics company Nielsen shows that the sport has the potential to reach 1 billion fans globally in 2022. Considering that crypto companies are also on an upward trajectory, it makes sense that they and F1 teams both take advantage of their shared momentum. In fact, out of the 10 teams taking part in the 2022 season, eight are sponsored by crypto and blockchain companies. The partnerships between Formula 1 teams and crypto seem almost natural as they both share similarities: they’re technologically innovative and appeal to a global demographic. These shared features mean that there will be many more collaborations between F1 and the blockchain industry.
As a country with national sports leagues that generate more revenue and interest than many other nations combined, the USA is a natural home for some of the most lucrative sponsorship deals in sports. Crypto companies are taking advantage of the marketing opportunities that come with the popularity of American sports franchises through several significant partnerships. In a shrewd move that will attract awareness from various fanbases, Crypto.com acquired the naming rights to the AEG-owned Staples Centre. The Los Angeles arena is home to the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, the National Hockey League’s King’s, and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. The prestige of the teams that the arena hosts will bring a significant amount of attention to Crypto.com, in addition to the other sports partnerships the crypto exchange already has, including deals with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Paris Saint Germain, and Italy’s premier football league Serie A.
America’s most viewed sporting event was also subject to the growing influence of crypto. The Superbowl is the climax of the National Football League season and the most anticipated event on the US sports calendar. As a result, advertising slots during televised broadcasts of the Superbowl have become much sought after, with the price of a 30-second advert reaching an all-time high of $6.5 million in 2022. This year, viewers felt the presence of crypto companies, with trading platform eToro and currency exchange FTX featuring prominent adverts. Most notably, Coinbase saw the greatest instant success, with installs jumping 309% in the week following the airing of their 30-second advert during the Superbowl, with FTX and eToro both seeing their installs rise to a lesser but still significant extent. The success of the adverts during the Superbowl could see even more crypto companies battling to secure slots during next year’s game and beyond.
Advertising via sports brands isn’t cheap, but with the number of people investing in crypto and blockchain predicted to grow, companies in the sector need to ensure they are exposed to the maximum potential target audience. The international sports sponsorship industry is a valuable tool for this. Companies have already targeted global markets through sponsorships with association football and Formula 1 teams while capitalizing on the popularity of US-based sports via huge deals with NBA, NFL, and NHL teams. As cryptocurrency and blockchain-based companies continue to grow and seek out new customers and users, they will continue to utilize the vast fanbases within sports to expand their awareness.
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