• Andy Marston

The future of NFTs in sport

Over the past year, dozens of teams, leagues, and athletes have minted their own NFT collections with varying levels of success. NBA Top Shot sold $500 million worth of NBA history, Formula 1 sold digital collectible car components, while WWE was… less popular.

Looking at these examples, we can safely assume that reputation and scarcity has played a big factor. If the basketball clips sold by Dapper Labs weren’t officially endorsed by the NBA, they wouldn’t be as valuable. Likewise, the scarce quantity of the drops has led to irrational behaviour and speculation.

However, with many of the projects we’ve seen in the sports industry to-date, there’s been a lack of utility. Except for the likes of Sorare and Animoca Brands, many NFT collections have failed to consider a use case.

As argued by Samuel Huber in this article for Forbes, “to truly emerge into the mainstream, NFTs need to prove their utility beyond pure collectible and speculative value.”

The answer to this utility layer, Huber believes, is hiding in plain sight, with countless users ready to engage in NFT gaming – quite possibly the next phase in the NFT revolution. As such, we’ve recently seen NBA player-backed Chibi Dinos partner with GameOn in a ‘first of its kind gamification.’

Taking this utility layer a step further, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has invested in Alethea AI, a company that is “wrapping avatars in AI that animates them, giving them conversation skills and knowledge,” transitioning NFTs to iNFTs (intelligent NFTs), which become something like chatbots that can be owned, trained, or sold.

Our Take:

Whether this catches on in the short run, rightsholders should consider this move to “utility-first” when considering which NFT projects to commit to going forward.