90: NFL partner with Roblox, calls to "drop that W", and Nickelodeon gets into golf
While many American Football fans made bets on if the Bengals or Rams would win Super Bowl, advertisers spent millions on a different gamble: Are viewers ready for their vision of the future?
As well as an increase in ads promoting EVs and crypto exchanges, a common theme among advertisers new and old was the metaverse, something the NFL has also been paying close attention to...
NFL Execs Touchdown in the metaverse with Roblox
At the end of last week, the NFL and Roblox announced the launch of NFL Tycoon to “engage the next generation of NFL football fans in the Metaverse.”
In doing so, The NFL has become the first official major sports league to offer a long-term experience on Roblox, the metaverse platform which previously made headlines (within the sports industry at least) for their partnership with Nike.
NFL Tycoon is a gamified experience which lets fans build, play, and learn in their own NFL-centred world. Fans can try themselves in the role of an NFL team owner, running their own franchise. (Btw, if you’re wondering if there’s an appeal for games focused on sports management, there most certainly is… Football Manager reportedly sold over 33 million units in 2021).
The Roblox-based experience taps into that passion, allowing fans to develop custom stadiums, build teams by unboxing card packs that represent fictional players, strategically swap them with other users, and compete in a simulator while climbing a leaderboard that unlocks additional in-experience rewards. Pretty cool.
Throughout the year, NFL Tycoon will also host virtual live events and activations that coincide with the NFL calendar, such as the Super Bowl or NFL Draft.
This started over the past weekend with "Destruction House," an interactive event where fans could compete against each other to playfully destroy an everyday neighbourhood house. In doing so, they unlocked new, limited-edition virtual goods influenced by Super Bowl LVI. Fans could also watch Roblox’s Super Bowl LVI commercial within the metaverse experience.
Our Take: This partnership is right at the new frontier of how fan engagement will evolve within major sports leagues. As such it’s highly likely that similar projects soon emerge with Roblox or rival platforms. In fact, less than a month ago we saw the NFLPA launch NFTs in Upland, tying the NFT mints to specific locations with their own metaverse.
There is huge competition from these metaverse platforms to leverage the IP and the accompanying communities of fans that the major sports leagues have. However, this project with Roblox is a good example where they are offering something that is genuinely engaging and valuable for the fan (i.e. a game and exclusive content). I see this as a very positive step.
📚 Further Reading
Miller Lite Opens Virtual Bar on Decentraland Before Super Bowl - PYMNTS
This Week in the Metaverse: Meta's odd Super Bowl ad, Samsung's V-Day stunt heartbreak - The Drum
Fortune Favors a Bored Ape at the Super Bowl - Bloomberg
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
One of the fiercest rivalries in global sport will renew itself this week in Beijing after the United States and Canada reached the women’s Olympic ice hockey final.
The preliminary round matchup between the pair (on Monday 7th Feb) pulled a peak audience of 1.3 million, the largest late-night viewership for the CBC since the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Discussing women’s sport on the Sports Management Podcast, Caroline Fitzgerald, CEO and Founder of GOALS Sports, has highlighted the importance of language, particularly the fact that, “we always have to designate women's sports [when we speak about domestic sports leagues or teams].” Citing the NBA and WNBA, Fitzgerald continued, “I would ask the NBA to put a name on it. Call it the Men's National Basketball Association [as is the case at the Olympics].” Alternatively, she suggests women’s sports leagues and teams could rebrand and “drop that ‘W’.” “One really interesting example is in the hockey space. So, this past year, the National Women's Hockey League, did a complete rebrand to now be called the Premier Hockey Federation. I think that's a trend that we're going to start to see more and more of.”
📚 Further Reading
Adopting gender neutral sporting terminology is a no-brainer - The Telegraph
Finland’s women promise prefix-free football - YLE
Welsh FA drop term women's from female league's name - WalesOnline
WEEKLY ROUND UP
Nickelodeon is launching a new celebrity golf tournament designed to engage younger audiences. The two-round ‘Slime Cup’ event will see four teams – each comprising of one professional golfer, a celebrity and a Nickelodeon star – compete for the title.
The crypto economy got the red carpet treatment at Super Bowl LVI. The biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, looking to demystify their businesses for tens of millions of Americans, secured commercials during the big game, which cost up to $7 million per 30-second spot.
Fayre, a global NFT community for brands and fans, has scored an exclusive NFT multi-season partnership with one of Spanish football’s oldest and well supported clubs, La Liga’s RCD Espanyol.
Gerard Pique's sports investment firm Kosmos has launched a new company focusing on sports projects. Kosmos Global Capital will focus on ‘the acquisition, possession and administration of all kinds of securities, company shares or any other title or sign representative of participatory or credit rights of other companies’.
Metaverse-focused gaming and investment firm Animoca Brands is closing in on a major boost from private equity firm KKR, which is in talks to lift the company's latest funding round to $500 million at a $5.4 billion valuation.
Crain Communications Inc has acquired a minority stake in Front Office Sports, a New York-based media brand focused on sports business at a valuation of $25 million (P.S. I'm open to offers...)
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