Digital collectibles can survive ‘Crypto Winter’ better than before – Sportico.com


Today’s guest columnist is Miheer Walavalkar, co-founder and CEO of LiveLike.

As Global Industries Regroup to Survive “Crypto Winter,” What Should We Do to Prepare for Dynamic Crypto spring which takes advantage of everything we’ve learned since the market around non-fungible and Web3 tokens first heated up?

NFTs were originally heralded for their ability to provide digital scarcity, but can we use them for more than that? Given the grim news cycle lately for cryptocurrencies, the answer may be surprising: for those who find the right formula, the opportunities are endless.

When it comes to the next stage of Web3 and its place in our digital economy, maintaining the focus on interactivity and utility is key – and sports fans explain why. Currently, most digital collectibles in sports go to the highest bidder and do little to attract higher engagement rates or build fan loyalty. But what if they were used as rewards for fans who genuinely engaged with sports events, teams, athletes and brands?

We have now seen what went wrong. Take, for example, the case of FTX, a crypto exchange that planned to buy a jersey patch on MLB uniforms and then pulled out due to current market conditions. Top Shot, one of the original sources of excitement around digital collectibles, saw sales drop 68% year-on-year from April 2021 to 2022. Liverpool entered the NFT game with the launch of the LFC Heroes collection on Polygon. Despite the initial excitement of the launch, Liverpool only sold 5% of their token inventory, disappointing fans and investors alike.

A deeper dive into why these initiatives have struggled highlights the importance of building better experiences to solve bigger problems. Teams and leagues that have taken the first step towards Web3 need not worry about missed goals or miscalculated expectations; instead, now is the time to focus on building deeper experiences and communities.

There is ample evidence of the potential of digital communities in sport. Some forward-thinking organizations have embraced the pledge, such as NASCAR, the Golden State Warriors, and NCAA March Madness, to name a few. At the heart of our mission at LiveLike, we continually develop technology that enables groups like these to bring interactivity and community to their fans, fostering engaged customers who are rewarded for their loyalty.

The sports industry as a whole, however, is missing an opportunity. They can learn a lot of industries such as airlines, hotels, and retail brands that have proven to be the best at building loyalty and community capitalization. Yet, rather than seizing the opportunity to revolutionize fandom, sports organizations rarely go beyond selling subscriptions to encourage loyalty.

Additionally, to date, sports properties have often ceded control of their fan communities to third-party platforms. Most communities are built by fans, Facebook groups, and subreddits to Discord servers. Web3 should be membership-based which is analogous to airline miles and hotel points, but with a layer of ownership transferability.

So what should sports brands do to seize the opportunities of Web3? Look at the Green Bay Packers or any state-owned Bundesliga club. Although it’s a very analogous concept, the main point is the same: a sense of belonging strengthens fandom. Web3 offers the opportunity to extend the fan experience far beyond what is standard and a chance for clubs to bring this concept into the digital space.

Companies like Socios do this exceptionally well and partner with the most forward-looking clubs, capitalizing on the opportunity in sport to engage directly with fans. Integrating Web3 into a fan engagement strategy allows teams to cultivate loyalty across their platforms and drive fans to rally around their IP address.

The industry needs to take back ownership of its communities, and Web3 is enabling that to happen. Technology trends tend to rewind, offering lessons for those willing to look back and study them. Web2 platforms such as Reddit and Facebook have provided fans with ways to build their communities and connections, while Web3 allows teams to take conversation and data out of the walled garden and back into the open realm. where they can retain more control over their fandom.

Given early sports industry lessons learned from Web3, we now know that fans want more: adding utility to tokens allows them to gain value beyond just sitting in the game. this fan’s digital wallet. Owning the token can be an elite fandom identification that grants access to special experiences where only recognized hardcore team supporters congregate, for example. Or, a Fan Token can be a key to discounts on new products, exclusive watch parties with players, or VIP opportunities in or out of the stadium.

Rather than just a digital badge that holds some financial value if sold, digital collectibles with added utility can allow them to become personal access codes through which teams can engage their most passionate fans. and reward them for their loyalty.

It’s time to prepare for the next phase of Web3, which is going nowhere. But in doing so, it’s worth asking: what is more likely to be embraced by a sports fan: an opportunity to buy a “non-fungible token” or to be part of a private fan club that provides access to exclusive offers and experiences. ?

This is 100% a rhetorical question, and we all know the answer.

Walavalkar is the co-founder and CEO of LiveLike, a technology company that creates personalized social experiences with leading industry partners, from Canal+, FloSports, FOX, Sky Group and WarnerMedia to the Golden State Warriors, LaLiga, NASCAR and the NBA. .

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