The idea of the metaverse is catching up very fast across different industries. With its vibrant colors and experience-rich digital environments, metaverse offers users an out-of-the-box experience for socializing, entertaining, and even working! Not surprisingly, the sports industry is also prospecting the metaverse for providing newer experiences for fans. How far can the metaverse transform the sports sector? Does it offer viable and valid use cases? Or is the market ready to embrace this change? In this article, we’ll explore the future of sports in the metaverse.
Still wondering how? Read on, and We’ll explain.
With Facebook rebranding itself as ‘Meta,’ ripples were felt across several industries. A positive impact was felt on the sports industry as well. Though the metaverse is at an infant stage, sports fans can still have the opportunity to visit and watch their favorite sports live with their virtual avatars. They can also trade Sports NFT digital tokens for sports merchandise and collectibles.
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The best catch of Metaverse sports events is that the fans can mingle, celebrate sports with other fans, and, at the same time, watch games and events, all without any geographical or physical restrictions. The use of metaverse in the sports sector promises a more immersive and creative watching experience, thereby taking the aspect of audience engagement to the next level. It would also allow people to participate in leagues, engage with products, and participate in decision-making processes for their favorite team.
Adopting the metaverse in the sports industry presents a unique opportunity for clubs and fans to build long-lasting and deep relationships. The user’s and creator’s perspectives can testify to the popularity of sports in the Metaverse.
According to a survey by Morning Consult, about 56%, 47%, and 37% of millennials, Gen Z and Gen X, respectively, registered their interest in attending a live sporting event in the Metaverse as of March 2022. The mentioned numbers could be directly related to the rising metaverse initiatives from the best-known sports organizations and famous teams. Efforts from common metaverse platforms like Decentraland in developing an entire virtual sports infrastructure also give a glimpse into the hype.
A report by Deloitte anticipates that sports NFT’s contribution could be worth $2 billion in transactions in 2022. These crypto-collectibles offer new ways for fans to interact and support their favorite teams and create a new revenue stream for sports organizations. Similarly, iconic sports teams issue NFT collections to engage their fanbase. This adds incremental value to NFT as it comes from a team with ‘brand’ recognition. Though the value of the team is subjective, it could still be translated into a considerable sum of money when NFT is sold.
|Statement||Agreement Percentage (%)|
|We have already launched concrete products||8.3 %|
|We are actively developing prioritized products||15.4 %|
|We see the potential but have yet to define concrete use cases||29.1 %|
|Not yet considered, as we lack knowledge of NFTs||24.1 %|
The Metaverse presents many opportunities to engage with the audience and fans during and outside significant sporting events. It opens the alluring world of sports to fans that love to show their loyalty to the team. It also gives organizations and clubs better opportunities to reward fan loyalty. Here are some other use cases of the Metaverse:
The concept of a virtual sports arena revolves around enriching and revamping the fan experience. It presents the possibility of accessing the virtual world with their unique voiceprint. These arenas can provide 360 visibility of the entire game. The opportunities for audience engagement are endless.
Things like zooming into a specific perspective during the game and entering a virtual pitch to run alongside players to be a virtual part of the cheerleaders are striking possibilities of the Metaverse. The Meta Stadium is actualizing this to build their metaverse football arena to create cyber-urban environments in virtual cities.
NFT tickets will allow local and overseas fans to access the game in the Metaverse. NFT tickets can provide additional rewards like free vouchers, exclusive merchandise, and more to the users that keep the ticket for multiple events. NFTs can also be programmed to transfer a specific percentage of every ticket sold to the audience, which acts as an extra source of revenue to the organizers and players.
Jerseys, trading cards, and other merch have been a fan’s representation of their support and adoration of a team. Sports NFTs are modern-day reflections of collectible merchandise. Fans can support their favorite teams by owning NFTs or digital collectibles like playing cards and game clips. The NFT collectibles, like the game highlights, avatar-specific items, etc., can also be traded in the NFT marketplace to grow the fan community. One of the popular NFT Marketplaces for basketball fans is NBA Top Shot. It is prominently known for collecting and trading NFT video trading cards that hold different iconic moments in basketball games.
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Why should the Metaverse be any different from the real world regarding wearable attire? Manchester United’s confirmation of a GBP 20 million sponsorship from Tezos for fan-based wearable NFTs is a testament to its potential popularity. These NFTs can be signed or personalized jerseys from famous athletes that the fans can wear during games. NFTs also provide Proof of ownership to the fan, making it even more attractive.
The metaverse offers an excellent way for brands to stand out during sporting events. Besides the popular applications of virtual advertising, like the virtual billboards in the Metaverse, companies can also integrate with popular games through sponsored games to build visibility in the Metaverse. Personalized NFTs can be extended at discounted prices to carve out an NFT marketing campaign.
The Metaverse provides a wide range of monetizing opportunities that come with the industry. These can be achieved through NFTs, games, or advertisements. We’ve come up with a few that might help:
NFTs can be sold in various forms to sports fans and generate extra revenue for the team’s management. For instance, fans can trade NFTs like player autographs, customized jerseys, club logos, etc. The player NFTs are associated with the player’s club, and the same is associated with the respective football association. Every participant makes money from every transaction, including the team, the player, and the association.
Fans can purchase exclusive access to the VIP box during a live game, browse virtual stores for both physical and digital offerings, or purchase sporting equipment, etc. This exclusiveness brings in more loyal fans to the team. Additionally, clubs can launch exclusive NFTs like souvenir kits and apparel for specific games or seasons to boost sales.
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Users can unlock games before, during, and after live sporting events and monetize the same access. Apart from holding sporting events, the virtual arena is already a gaming platform, delivering an added benefit to the public.
Content creators and brands have an unexplored chance to advertise their offerings on virtual advertising platforms. They advertise and capitalize on the presence of enormous crowds in virtual arenas or stadiums.
Though the Metaverse is still developing, many sports organizers and events have chosen to enter the virtual world. We’ve gathered some of the popular and trending sporting events:
The Etihad Stadium, home to the Manchester City football club, will get its digital twin in the Metaverse. Sony has already started its construction of the digital twin, which means it can serve as the team’s focal point in the Metaverse.
Les Mills has launched the ‘BODYCOMBAT’ VR app on the Quest platform to create a fitness gaming experience. It hopes to inspire participants to work out in real life by awarding points for effort and technique shown in the game.
Stadium Live is on its way to expanding its sports Metaverse experience, catering to Gen Z. They enable this by allowing customization of avatars and digital collectibles through live matches and sports streams in Metaverse. Stadium Live has reportedly gained $10 million in funding from Union Square Ventures and KB Partners. Their total valuation sits around US$32 million now.
We have outlined the lucrative nature of digital collectibles above. Dream Sports is a testament to this with their five-year agreement with the NZ Cricket Team to create digital fan engagement products and custom merchandise in the form of NFTs for the team. These digital collectibles open the users to cricket history achieves, artifacts, and video content that can be traded and owned.
The sports industry has taken big strides that have changed how business is dealt with and done. As more major sports clubs and organizations embrace the advantage of the Metaverse, the Metaverse may have a lasting change in the industry. The possibility to increase fan engagement, provide a better viewing experience and create new revenue streams all lay the path to revolutionizing the present sports industry.
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