A New Behemoth: Analyzing the Rise of Crypto Sponsorships

Unless you've been living under a rock over the past 10 months, you’ve probably seen the word ‘Crypto’ thrown around about a million times (we’re not even exaggerating here). What was initially seen as a technology for the “nerdy” few, is now commercial enough to be discussed at dinner parties. Extraordinary returns on investment (Dogecoin to the moon) coupled with the increased reliance on digital solutions over the pandemic, helped the Crypto world proliferate and saw the establishment of the first few profitable businesses in the space.

Following the initial buzz about investments and returns, one of the main drivers behind today’s growth of Crypto has been the opportunities created in the world of sports - a vertical with a new audience and the potential to build more awareness. European sports, in particular, have been a huge catalyst behind this change.

Between BREXIT, the pandemic and the repeated lockdowns, the economic markets in Europe have felt quite some pain over the last couple of years. This ‘downturn’ has facilitated the perfect backdrop for people to explore new investment opportunities such as Cryptocurrencies, with Tokens and NFTs being the most popular instruments of choice.

Thanks to the growing acceptance of Crypto and tokens, 2020 saw the creation of innovative (& disruptive) business models which quickly caught the attention of the sports world. From organizations like Socios, which allows you to buy and trade fan tokens, to platforms like Sorare, which mix blockchain-based technology with the concept of sports trading cards, we are currently seeing a new generation of companies sprouting. While we’re yet to see how scalable and sustainable these businesses are, one thing is for sure - fans and teams want IN!

With these businesses generating more noise than ever (and the funding to back it up), they now have access to higher budgets for marketing and sponsorships. And what better avenue to use these budgets than in sports? Sports fans are a great demographic to target - they’ve historically shown a high (and increasing) affinity for risk through participation in sports betting, and wagers. Moreover, sports fans believe in the long term (how many teams have said the words we’re in the middle of a rebuild?). Sports teams are also currently looking to find ways to appeal to a younger demographic of fans and collaborations such as these present great win-win-win opportunities for the team, the fans and the crypto companies.

So what does that look like in the world of sports today? It means that the floodgates have opened. The following are deals that have been announced within the last couple of weeks:

Formula 1 strikes $100M sponsorship deal with Crypto.com

Valencia becomes the first team to promote fan tokens on shirts

Rangers Football Club signs sponsorship with Bitci

Polaris Sports Nets Exclusive NFT Deal Featuring Global Football Giants in Partnership with Zilliqa

Roma finalising sponsorship agreement with blockchain network DigitalBits


This opens a gap that is yet to be addressed. While it’s easy to say that the very nature of these businesses lend themselves to authentic engagement as fans can buy tokens, etc, this notion ignores a large demographic. It’s important to recognize that there are a myriad of fans that do not yet plan to buy up tokens. So, how can they be engaged and brought into the fold?

The era of “like and retweet to win” is over as businesses shift towards first-party data. Being sponsors that operate in a digital-first ecosystem, a digital strategy for engagement and data collection needs to be employed to address changing behaviours. To that end, gamified experiences need to be leveraged to bring awareness amongst fans that may not yet be on the Crypto bandwagon. Building awareness through ideas that they might already be familiar with such as “Wager”, “Spin to Win,” “Collect them All” and more lowers the barrier to entry for newer fans and can also function as mediums of education. Gamifying the fan experience also provides an opportunity for teams and leagues to collect first-party data and broaden their addressable audience.

The other opportunity that partnerships with entities from the Crypto world offer is the global nature of their offering (for the most part). Very few industries have been able to take over sponsorship deals worldwide at such a fast pace. At the same time, teams have been engaging their global fanbases more during the pandemic and are increasingly looking for more opportunities to engage these fans. This presents a great opportunity for both crypto companies and teams to come together and look at building data-first global strategies to increase their addressable audiences internationally.

These are exciting times in the world of sponsorships. There is a new behemoth among us and it’s time to maximize monetization opportunities. If you’re looking to identify more authentic opportunities to incorporate new Crypto sponsors as part of your digital strategy, get in touch with us. We’d love to brainstorm some ideas with you and chart the future of a data-first Crypto Sports Sponsorship strategy together.


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