From the likes of the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers to the new NBA Top Shot, Crypto firms are tapping into the money-laden NBA market.
The rate at which cryptocurrency and financial technology (FinTech) companies are entering the sponsorship circuit in and around the National Basketball Association (NBA) has increased dramatically over the last year.
Previously, large corporations and banks used to dominate the NBA sponsorship portfolios, but crypto firms have gradually climbed up the ladder to such an extent that they’re now contesting for the crown at the very top.
Although crypto sponsorship entered the sporting arena through football, it has slowly but gradually extended its branches to other sporting disciplines as well.
Here we take a look at some of the major cryptocurrency sponsorship deals in the NBA.
Also Read – 10 Biggest Crypto Deals in Sports
Antpool and Houston Rockets | 2018
This was the first major sponsorship from a non-currency or trading/gambling crypto brand and one that involved a physical product.
Antpool and its parent company, Bitmain, are involved in producing cryptocurrency mining equipment. In the digital world, this isn’t the digging and mining stuff but rather the data centres, machines and software that enable new bitcoins to be entered into circulation and maintained.
Antpool’s sponsorship of the Houston Rockets was part of a wider US$500 million investment the firm was making into the state of Texas.
Dapper Labs and NBA Top Shot | 2020
Dapper Labs in 2020 finally launched a beta version of the NBA Top Shot app it was working on since it began talks with the league and the players’ association back in 2018.
In a report published by CNBC in March 2021, according to Dapper Labs, NBA Top Shot, a blockchain-based trading card system, has already generated US$230 million in gross sales.
The collectable component is only one aspect of the game, which also includes opportunities to showcase collections, get new tokens by completing in-app challenges, and a challenge feature where players can use their team to engage in one-on-one games using the collective skills from the roster of NBA stars that a user has collected.
The tokens are reported to be sold in packs that range in price from US$9 to US$200. The game also includes a peer-to-peer marketplace for trading these tokens.
FTX and Miami Heat | 2021
Back in March 2021, FTX became the first cryptocurrency exchange to sponsor a professional sports arena in the United States. FTX, a digital assets derivatives exchange, put pen to paper on a nineteen-year deal with Miami-Dade County in Florida to take over the naming rights of the Miami Heats’ stadium, formerly known as American Airlines Arena.
The FTX deal is reported to cost around US$135 million over the nineteen-year period. Launched back in May 2019, FTX has quickly grown into one of the top cryptocurrency derivatives exchanges. It also has a 24-hour trading volume of more than US$7 billion.
Also Read –Cryptocurrency deals in football
StormX and Portland Trail Blazers | 2021
Seattle-based cryptocurrency startup StormX inked a five-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers in June 2021 that will see the company’s logo feature on the team’s jerseys starting this 2021/22 NBA season.
Although neither StormX nor the Trail Blazers revealed any specific financial details, the signed contract is reported to be having an eight-figure sum while also including in-arena branding and rights for StormX to be the exclusive blockchain partner of the Portland Trail Blazers.
StormX also has rights to distribute and conduct team-identified marketing internationally.
Socios.com and 6 Other NBA teams | 2021
Socios.com‘s ambition to be a major global cryptocurrency exchange has taken an aggressive turn as the company behind the platform looks to further strengthen its impressive sponsorship roster with six new NBA franchises.
The Boston Celtics were the first of the six franchises to join hands with the crypto firm back in the first week of July 2021. As part of the collaboration, Socios.com has a digital presence on Celtics.com and serves as the team’s website presenting partner.
In late July 2021, Socios.com and the Cleveland Cavaliers announced their association starting from the 2021/22 NBA season. Socios.com has stated that the team-based fan engagement elements and activations tethered to the Cavaliers are still under review. However, Socios.com will leverage the Cavaliers’ global-asset platform to boost brand awareness.
For the upcoming season, the Socios.com logo will be featured on the Cavaliers’ practice jersey, just below the player’s number. Socios.com will also have access to in-venue branding with broadcast-visible courtside LED signage.
Part of the Chiliz Group, Socios.com will act as the teams’ official team partner throughout the 2021/22 NBA season and onwards. It will also create engagement opportunities via monthly Twitter polls and serve as the presenter of the teams’ halftime score updates on the social media platform. Additionally, the firm will gain the rights to the franchises’ marks and logo to build brand association and awareness.
The Los Angeles Clippers are the final NBA team to have leveraged Socios.com for fan engagement and rewards, though there are no plans for fan tokens at this stage. Socios.com will gain exposure through the Clippers’ social media platforms and hospitality experiences as part of the deal.