Cryptocurrency and blockchain are both, in their own rights, redefining industries across the world. Since Bitcoin’s emergence into the global marketplace in 2009, it has radically evolved the realms of both finance and technology, but entertainment is set to be the next major marketplace overhauled by blockchain and cryptocurrency.
In particular, major league sports are beginning to benefit from the usage of blockchain. It’s revolutionizing apps that provide ticketing and merchandise services. And, most recently, blockchain provides a new platform for teams, players, and fans to interact.
While these types of programs are being developed around the world, from the Champions League in Europe, who use blockchain apps, to the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, who now accept payment in Bitcoin.However, it’s the NFL’s latest foray into blockchain and cryptocurrency that’s caught the attention of the coin world. The blockchain platform is known as SportsCastr, and its cryptocurrency is FanChain.
A Closer Look: SportsCastr
In short, the idea behind SportsCastr is that NFL players and fans will engage with the SportsCastr platform, where fans will use FanChain as a non-fungible payment in the form of a ‘token’ and players will receive payments via FanChain.
One major idea behind the SportsCastr platform is for popular NFL players to provide live content that fans will pay to stream. Pundits have options now; they can check sites like Oddschecker for NFL future odds, where expert handicappers are already speculating about next year’s Super Bowl pool, or pundits can tune in to hear, say, cornerback Richard Sherman of the San Francisco 49ers take a crack at the same future odds.
However, what makes SportsCastr an interesting case study is the fact that NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) has recently purchased a minority stake in the startup. Rather than the NFL itself taking a swing at the platform, it’s geared toward players just as much as it is for fans—and putting money in the players’ pockets through sponsored content.
Content created by NFL players can be purchased directly by fans, or, alternatively, players can receive tokens from the platform for creating content. Subscription-only streams are likely to be modeled after Twitch and other streaming services.In fact, the NFLPA’s OneTeam Collective branch, which covers the union’s forays into venture capitalism, will be providing support for NFL players who want to translate their fame and legacy into hard cash… or hard crypto, in this case.
SportsCastr isn’t the first union of cryptocurrency and major league sports. In fact, the cryptocurrency Chiliz has been marketing itself as an official crypto-coin of the sports world, with major holdings in EU football teams, from Italy’s Serie A team Juventus and France’s Ligue 1 team Paris Saint-Germain.
However, it should be noted that Chiliz aims to cater to soccer fans in the EU who are already familiar with the Socios system. This platform uses ‘fan tokens’ to allow fans to interact directly with their chosen club, even allowing them to vote on issues that will directly affect their beloved team.
Meanwhile, within the NBA and NFL leagues in the US, more and more stadiums and teams are adapting their technology to allow fans to purchase things like tickets, merchandise, and in-stadium items with cryptocurrency. From the Sacramento Kings (mentioned above) to the Miami Dolphins, Bitcoin is slowly being welcomed into major league sports.
However, these changes account purely for Bitcoin. And it doesn’t look likely that any major league players will be paid in bitcoin, though many players, like Matt Barkley of the Buffalo Bills and vice president of the NFLPA, Russell Okung, are interested in receiving salary in crypto.
SportsCastr seems poised for success given that it’s able to address each consideration mentioned above. First, FanChain can be translated into any other cryptocurrency (the mighty Bitcoin included), so it functions beyond the SportsCastr network.
Second, the SportsCastr platform could be adapted to bring fans and franchises closer than ever, similar to how the Socios platform works in the EU, but overseen in this case by minority owners, NFLPA.
And lastly, FanChain could be standardized throughout the NFL in order to allow fans the mobility to buy something like stadium concessions with FanChain, as well as access exclusive commentary by a major player for post-game entertainment.