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Yahoo Sports: Crypto, Blockchain Provide Sports Sponsorships Greatest Growth, Not Sports Betting

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:
Nov/30/2021

While sports betting sponsorships in the world of sports have been all the talk of late, it is cryptocurrencies and the blockchain that will provide the greatest growth opportunity in the sector, so says JohnWallStreet for Yahoo Sports.

We won't have to wait very long for this concept to take hold.

Effective Christmas Day, the Staples Center will be renamed Crypto.com Arena after that company purchased the naming rights for the home of one of the NBA's most storied franchises.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but a person familiar with the deal told CNBC it was a 20-year contract worth $700 million.

“This partnership is about the future,” AEG president and CEO Dan Beckerman said in a statement. “AEG and Crypto.com not only share a vision about innovation and the future of sports and entertainment, but we also have a shared commitment to our communities where we work and live.  We look forward to partnering with Crypto.com to create meaningful initiatives to bring that vision to life in the years to come.”

JWS explains: "The $700 million-plus figure is the most a corporate sponsor has ever agreed to pay on a stadium naming rights deal. SoFi, the previous record holder, committed $600 million in 2019 to place its name on Los Angeles’ football stadium. Of course, SoFi Stadium was a new building. Crypto.com Arena is more than 20 years old."

Crypto.com is also buying social media reach. Collectively, the Lakers and Clippers have more followers than the bottom third of NBA clubs combined (74% of those followers belong to the Lakers).

SponsorUnited founder and president Bob Lynch tells Yahoo Sports there is no doubt that “crypto [and blockchain] will far exceed sports betting within the sponsorship space” over the next decade.

“They’re essentially buying equity,” which would be particularly valuable in an industry that is still widely doubted, he said. “The Lakers and Clippers have global exposure, media value and mentions that give instant brand legitimacy with top-of-mind awareness through national/global TV exposure,” he added.

Crypto.com is practically a startup, having burst onto the scene in 2016.  Initially founded by Bobby Bao, Gary Or, Kris Marszalek, and Rafael Melo in 2016 as "Monaco", the Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange app now employs 3,000 people and claims over 10 million users.

Cryptocurrencies have already changed the face of the gaming, eSports and sports betting sector.  In more restrictive Web gambling markets, digital currencies account for more than 70% of all funding transactions.

Crypto.com has also entered into this space via eSports.  In September, it added London-based esports brand Fnatic to its growing roster of sports sponsorships.

The five-year, $15 million partnership will add cryptocurrency payment options for Fnatic fans, and includes the launch of special digital products and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Even the tiniest of affiliates can still get in on the blockchain sports and gaming sponsorship craze.

Affiliate Insider, Lee Ann Johnstone is constantly studying future digital trends, including BSV blockchain technology.

Johnstone referred to affiliate marketing as “sitting on old rails” built 20 years ago. She said we’re approaching a time when these old rails cannot handle the current digital marketing landscape and a massive upgrade is needed.

“I think we're on the cusp of an evolution, an exciting evolution of how we think about digital and also how we do digital and how those infrastructures are going to be upgraded as we move forward,” she said.

Media outlets in the crypto space have even joined forces with media behemoths in the gaming sector.  Witness Gambling911.com's sponsorship deal with CoinGeek.com.

"The synergies are amazing," remarked Gambling911 founder Chris Costigan.  "Gambling operators are constantly approaching us asking how they can incorporate the BSV Blockchain technology, especially following our coverage of CoinGeek NYC this past month."

While sports betting remains a fast-growing sponsorship category in the U.S., opposition to it has begun to emerge in some of the more mature markets like Great Britain, even crushing long established gaming affiliates and eradicating many of the sports betting team partnership deals that were once so prevalent.

“In Europe, [sports leagues and governing bodies] are moving away from allowing gambling and betting brands to sponsor sports properties,” Conrad Wiacek, head of sport analysis & consulting, GlobalData Plc, tells Yahoo Sports.

And with this fast growth unsavory dealings are bound to emerge.  Our colleagues at CoinGeek regularly point out questionable dealings within the crypto and blockchain space, most recently the whole delirium over a so-called Bitcoin City in El Salvador.

Manchester City was recently forced to terminate a newly signed deal with a purported decentralized finance brand (3Key Technologies) after questions of the company’s legitimacy were raised. FC Barcelona prematurely ended a partnership with the upstart NFT marketplace Ownix after finding out someone associated with the company had been arrested for crypto-related fraud.

- Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com

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