Sports NFTs aren’t going anywhere, according to predictions released by Deloitte Wednesday. Its experts predict sports-related NFTs will account for more than $2 billion in transactions next year, roughly doubling the 2021 figure. By the end of 2022, Deloitte projects up to five million sports fans getting into crypto collectibles.
“In a lot of ways, NFTs are just the beginnings of what can be done with both crypto and blockchain technologies,” Deloitte U.S. sports practice leader Pete Giorgio said in an interview. “As organizations start to embrace those technologies, what else they do with it will be very interesting.”
This time last year, Giorgio’s conversations with clients rarely went beyond the generalities of what bitcoin and the blockchain were. Now? Nearly all of them are looking to do more in the category, Giorgio said, following the explosive success of NBA Top Shot early in 2021 and the avalanche of NFT offerings that followed.
Much like what happened with daily fantasy companies in 2015, the boom in products sparked a media blitz, leading to Crypto.com’s naming rights deal for what is currently Staples Center. What separates NFTs, however, is the low cost of entry—meaning everyone from players to venues to awards to broadcasters can get in the mix, opening up a new line of IP debate that is yet to be fully settled and supercharging the competition for consumer interest.
As the industry has gotten comfortable with NFTs, conversation has turned to further virtualization opportunities. What does fan engagement look like in the metaverse? How about broadcasts?
“I think sports organizations are actually some of the most adaptable organizations you’ll see,” Giorgio said. “Once the industry understands the size of the opportunity, I think you’ll see them move quickly and embrace it…. When you start to see that pendulum swing, I think it will be breathtaking how quickly the industry pivots.”