What do sports and crypto have in common?
Competitive sports teams and athletes are constantly looking to break new ground and stay one step ahead and when you think about it, users and advocates of blockchain technology are looking to do the same.
Both aim to go faster and further, to break boundaries, and to continuously strive towards a better, more efficient future. And through this shared set of values, the two industries are getting closer and closer, with benefits for both sides.
In fact, over the past year in particular, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of crypto companies entering into partnerships with high profile sports teams or collaborating with major sporting events; all of which are bringing blockchain technology in front of truly global audiences.
To give you more of an insight into the burgeoning union between the two industries, we’ve scoped out the most notable partnerships that took place during last sporting season.
Which pairing impresses you the most?
Wolverhampton Wanderers and CoinDeal
In a deal described on Wolves’ website as the ‘the first ever sports sponsorship deal involving a crypto currency exchange platform’, CoinDeal were announced as the English Premier League side’s shirt sleeve sponsors in July 2018.
The exchange, founded less than half a year earlier in March, offers users the ability to trade over 40 cryptocurrency pairs, including BTC, BCH, ETH, Litecoin Dash and QTUM, as well as Euros and U.S Dollars, and currently finds itself listed amongst CoinMarketCap’s Top 100 CryptoCurrency Exchanges by Trade Volume.
Such prominence in the industry can in part be attributed to the sheer increase in brand awareness brought about by the partnership, with CoinDeal’s announcement video on YouTube starring the Wolves squad reaching over one million views so far.
Together with reports that the kits themselves had ‘more than 528,000 exposures from June 1 to Nov 30’, and the fact that Premier League viewing figures for the 2018/19 season continued to rise, this time by 7%, the benefits of CoinDeal’s sponsorship venture are all but clear.
It should also be noted that such benefits extend beyond the UK, with England’s top soccer competition known for drawing in the ‘highest global television audience’ of any other national league.
In fact, Wolves’ match against Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the year was reported to have reached ‘an audience high in South Korea’, a record that serves to demonstrate both the inroads the sport can make into audiences across the world, and the undeniable opportunities that lie ahead for crypto companies like CoinDeal who are also looking to mark their presence on a global stage.
Houston Rockets and Antpool
Another company that has used the sports industry to unlock access to new overseas audiences is Antpool, a China-based corporation self-described as ‘the most advanced bitcoin mining pool on the planet’, and owned by Bitmain Technologies, the world’s biggest supplier of cryptocurrency mining equipment
In September 2018 they announced via Facebook that, in an effort to build upon the momentum of their ‘U.S expansion’, they were to partner with the NBA’s Houston Rockets - a team considered to be ‘No.1’ in China thanks to national hero Yao Ming, the 7ft 6 giant who rose to All-Star levels of fame during his nine year stint in Clutch City.
Over the course of the season, Antpool were able to showcase their company through an exhibition held in the Toyota Center, the team’s home arena. Not only did this help fans ‘learn more about the technology that will change the word’, but it put the brand in front of the citizens of the city in which the company hoped to ‘further strengthen its client base’.
Whilst no data has been released by either partner regarding the profitability of the relationship, a comment made by John Croley, the Rocket’s Vice President of Corporate Development, is hugely telling of the symbolic - rather than monetary - benefit behind the deal.
Quoted online, he states that ‘The Rockets are always looking to stay ahead of the curve with technology both on and off the court and Antpool’s prowess with cryptocurrency makes for a great partnership’.
Through highlighting their shared desire to stay ahead, Crowley touches upon the fundamental attraction between the sports and crypto industry that we noted earlier on; and emphasises the powerful message that such a union relays to the rest of the world.
British Masters and LIFElabs
In October last year, the European Tour announced that alongside global brands Adidas and Ladbrokes, crypto company LIFElabs would be an Official Sponsor of the 2018 Sky Sports British Masters golf tournament.
The partnership between the two stemmed from the ‘progressive’ nature of both corporations, with Luke Chittock, the CEO of LIFElabs, stating that his company ‘partnered with European Tour because it is innovative within the golfing world, with one eye firmly fixed on the future’.
The same qualities can be attributed to the crypto startup too, who - in what has been deemed to be a ‘world-first’ - are dedicating one third of their own currency, LIFEtoken, to ‘support community projects and humanitarian philanthropic causes’ across the world.
In fact, as part of the sponsorship deal, LIFElabs held a competition on the ninth hole of the Britsh Masters course as a way to give back to UK charities. The deal split £20,000 between the first golfer to hit a hole in one, Cancer Research UK and the European Tour Foundation’s charity pick, The Woodlands Special Needs School.
Not only did the deal with the European Tour amplified LIFElabs’ philanthropic values, but - with British Masters’ history of generating over 20 million social media impressions and reaching worldwide audiences - it also embodied a very real step forward for the company in achieving their overall goal of breaking down the barriers of digital currency.
UFC 232 and Litecoin
Three days prior to one of the most anticipated UFC events of the year, featuring the decisive rematch for the Light Heavyweight title between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson, came the announcement that Litecoin was to be the Official Cryptocurrency Partner of UFC 232.
Described as a ‘milestone’ for the crypto industry, Litecoin envisaged this partnership as a way for blockchain technology to move ‘closer towards the mainstream’. With their logo in the middle of the Octagon, and a shoutout from UFC presenter Bruce Buffer before the fight, the stunt certainly exposed the cryptocurrency to the mainstream audiences it desired to reach. Winners aside, the cryptocurrency has definitely won the Lite Heavyweight title that night.
According to the Litecoin Foundation’s post-sponsorship analysis, 15,862 people filed into the sold-out arena in Los Angeles on December 29th to watch the nine scheduled fights take place, and with thousands more watching global broadcasts or streams of the MMA event, interest in the cryptocurrency spiked.
The search term ‘Litecoin UFC’ received over 40 million Twitter impressions from 26th December - 4th January, and was countlessly typed into Google in countries across the globe, with the US, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and Brazil topping the list.
Upon reflection of such telling data, Litecoin described their partnership with UFC 232 as an ‘invaluable’ form of networking. And in the same way that Antpool’s sponsorship sent out a message of confidence and ambition, Litecoin’s UFC partnership, the first-ever for any coin, clearly signalled the forward thinking nature of both corporations involved.
Red Bull Aston Martin and Futurocoin
Earlier this year, Futurocoin, the ‘cryptocurrency of the future’ penned a two year deal with Formula 1’s Red Bull Aston Martin; a deal that will see the company’s branding featured on Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly’s racing cars, as well as on team clothing, throughout the current and upcoming season.
What’s different about this sponsorship deal, compared to the others already listed, is that in addition to benefiting from exposure to a reported audience of 350 million people worldwide, Futurocoin are directly mirroring the key strength of their product in the fast-paced nature of the sport itself.
For this cryptocurrency, transactional speed is everything, as it’s clear by the very first sentence on their website: ‘Four seconds is enough.’ And so it’s only natural then, that Futurocoin partner with one of the fastest teams in one of the fastest sports in the world to showcase what they’re all about.
This is recognised by the cryptocurrency’s co-founder Roman Ziemen in the announcement posted online by Red Bull Racing. ‘Cryptocurrencies and Formula One are very similar’ he says, ‘and their values much alike; speed, technology and ahead of their time’.
We certainly agree with you there, Mr Ziemen, but - as this list has shown - the similarities aren’t limited to car racing. From basketball to soccer, MMA to golf, crypto sports sponsorships are emerging across the industry thanks to their core set of shared values. And we have a feeling that this is only just the beginning of what’s still to come.
So what does the future hold for the two industries?
Well, let’s look to socios.com as an example; a company that has looked beyond sponsorship towards something revolutionary.
When launched, their soccer app will allow fans to ‘acquire voting rights’ to the clubs they love, so that they can have an actual input on the types of decisions they’ve previously felt so strongly about - but weren’t able to influence whatsoever. By putting their money where their mouths are, wannabe coaches will have skin in the game and a say on their team’s direction.
Soon, fans will be able to buy Fan Tokens using the cryptocurrency $CHZ in exchange for the ability to vote on decisions regarding new players and kit designs, and with the company already in partnership with top-flight giant’s Paris Saint Germain, Juventus and West Ham United, it’s looking likely that decision-making by soccer clubs across Europe could be on the brink of radical change.
And that change is all thanks to blockchain and its cutting-edge technology, which is slowly but surely bringing an entirely new dimension to the sporting industry, impacting it ways in which, even today, are yet to be truly recognised.
What do you think the next biggest partnership between the two industries will be? And what other ways are there for crypto to impact sports? Let us know your futuristic thoughts by dropping us a tweet @Cloudbet today.