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NFT tickets, the new fan engagement
17 Feb 2022   ·   

Tom Brady, the perfect example of a long-standing athlete we have been seeing in the last decades, retires. At age 44 he has competed in twenty top level NFL seasons. When a legend’s career comes to an end, collectibles related to him/her increase their value. And one that has reached its highest value is, precisely, tickets for his last game. The match between Buccaneers and LA Rams. It is a non-fungible-token kind of ticket. With Brady’s retirement, this NFT becomes a valuable collectible. In fact, one fan is selling the ticket on eBay for 9,900 dollars.

NFT ticket issued by Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Limited edition. Ticket 44 out of 10000 issued. It includes a 17-second animation with the team logo. It has a reference pricing that always depends on how it is valued by the market. But its sentimental value for the fan, due to Brady’s retirement, is really high. NFT ticket issued by Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Limited edition. Ticket 44 out of 10000 issued. It includes a 17-second animation with the team logo. It has a reference pricing that always depends on how it is valued by the market. But its sentimental value for the fan, due to Brady’s retirement, is really high.

NFL are pioneers in the use and implantation of NFT tickets. Not only sport fans but any kind of event demands this type of tickets more often. DappRadar, one of the main companies in decentralized apps managing NFTs, announced that in 2021 global sales rose to 22,000 million dollars. Deloitte has estimated that this year, non-fungible-token sports collectibles sales will reach 2000 million. A part of them will be tickets.

NFT is not a digital ticket, not even the digitization of a paper one

It is important to have this clear to get its maximum potential. Allowing access to the stadium is just one of its functions. As it is backed by a smart contract stored on a blockchain, it becomes a unique object. Its owner can buy it, sell it or keep it as they would do with any physical merchandising. Instead of keeping it in a drawer or a safe, it is linked to an account owned by the user in a selling platform, like Ticketmaster.  Apart from being a sports memory for the fan, it becomes a collectible with an economic value.

Additionally, it could be a way for the club or league to create engagement and new revenues for their own benefit. An NFT ticket can be programmed as access to future events, exclusive merchandising purchase advantages or buying exclusive items, or access to stadiums or teams’ apps and platforms. Collectible, limited, static or animated images could be added.  In any of these cases, fans will complete their live sports experience with additional experiences, strengthening the relevance of going to the stadium and being part of fandom. They will enjoy a unique object, one that no one else, who has not gone to the event, could have.

Selling an NFT creates an additional income for clubs: sales commission. This value is added to the revenues of a traditional ticket. There is no difference if it is digitized or on paper.  A collectible memory could also be produced after the game, and it can work as a digital trading card. This option has been chosen by NFL in the marketplace My virtual ticket collection, with different prices for Superbowl or regular-season games. Whether fans went to the event purchasing a regular ticket, or they saw the broadcast and want to keep a special memory of it, these tickets work as any other official merchandising object. For the time being no photos of players or teams are included, but if in the future they are included, they will also generate royalties for players.


Example of NFT commemorative ticket on sale in NFL marketplace for last Tom Brady’s game. It is a creation different from the ticket marketed the day of the event.

Why not turn every ticket into an NFT?

There are many reasons why it is still not possible. First, their scarcity gives more value to any NFT object.  Second, more partners creating Dapps, decentralized apps to distribute them, are needed. And third, carbon footprints generated are still unknown.

NFL has developed their tickets thanks to Dapper Labs. They developed Top Shots before, NBA’s digital collectibles, and they are reaping success with other NFTs. The reason is that they managed to program a blockchain system, Flow, which allows to escalate its use to millions of users. Before Flow, blockchains based on Ethereum were congested so it was not possible to generate ten thousand tickets for a sports event.

There are still doubts about which carbon footprints an NFT generates. We know that any digital object produced using blockchain needs a great amount of energy. But Dapps companies have not made public whether they are created with renewable sources.

Even though there are challenges ahead and developments to undertake, NFT tickets are called to be one more element of current fan engagement, of greater digitization in sport. And it will be a particularly powerful one.

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