One of the greatest sports spectacles is a three-week period in March where 68 teams vie for a national college basketball championship in a bracket-style tournament. It is March Madness, and it could be an area where cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) see a big bump.
It’s a crazy time for sports bettors who use March Madness betting odds to try and make some extra cash on the crazy upsets that happen each year. There is money to be had in the crypto space as in 2019, $8.5 billion was wagered both illegally and legally according to Odds Shark.
Dapper Labs is dabbling in sports with NBA Top Shot, NFL All Day and UFC Strike. They sell NFTs in a way that is like sports trading cards. Each “moment” has its own serial number with some that are limited editions, collector rewards and present a different kind of value based on the number.
Except instead of trading cards they sell moments, which are essentially a short clip of a single highlight. In fact a popular “One Shining Moment” compilation is made each tournament by CBS, the lead broadcast partner, at the conclusion of each tournament.
There are historic plays made each tournament that fans won’t forget. Historically, Duke’s Christian Laettner hit a game-winner off a fullcourt pass to beat Kentucky in the Elite Eight in 1992. It was historic as a documentary was made about it. Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew hit a game-winner in the final seconds to beat Ole Miss. Mario Chalmers hit one of the best 3-pointers to force overtime as Kansas would go on to beat Memphis. Villanova’s Kris Jenkins hit a 3-pointer to win the 2016 championship over North Carolina.
The list goes on as countless memories have been made for each fan base, and each moment sinks its way into sports fans’ memories, regardless of affiliation. The lone hurdle will be rights with CBS or the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Especially considering the NCAA’s reluctancy and drawn-out process for rule changes, even those that would benefit sports greatly.
Coinbase ran a campaign ad during the Super Bowl that was just a bouncing QR code on TV screens across the world. It lasted for a minute and cost $14 million. Users who scanned the code found a free sign-up and a giveaway contest for $3 million. Though the success of it crashed the site.
While it was unpopular with fans, though it resembled an old DVD logo with people waiting to see if it would hit a corner, it was a business success. Within the first half-day on the stock market, Coinbase’s stock rose 4%.
Crypto.com and FTX also had Super Bowl ads. With an average of 14.9 million viewers during the 2021 Final Four, and a national championship game that peaked at 18.8 million viewers, there is an audience to explore. Getting the eyes of younger people on crypto should mean more crypto-based commercials over the next three weeks, particularly the Final Four.
Slow sports growth
The largest sports leagues, teams and some of the most recognizable players are slowly adapting crypto as well. The iconic Staple Center, which houses the Lakers, Clippers, Sparks (WNBA team) and Kings (of the NHL), was recently renamed the Crypto.com Arena for a 20-year, $700 million deal. Crypto.com also has deals with UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and Formula 1, which is growing in popularity among Americans.
FTX is making headway securing a multi-year partnership with Major League Baseball, which at the time was the first partnership with a professional sports league. They also struck a 19-year deal for the naming rights of the Miami Heat’s arena valued at $135 million. Basketball superstar Stephen Curry, of the Golden State Warriors, also has a deal with FTX.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been an early adapter into cryptocurrency and his NBA franchise partnered with Voyager. His team has offered NFTs, bitcoin deals and other ways to bring more users into the crypto world.
Voyager Digital also has deals with tight end Rob Gronkowski, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and NASCAR driver Landon Cassill.
It’s evident that crypto is growing and targeting the niche sports markets. March Madness is on deck.