Crypto companies are leveraging the rise of growing global sports fan engagement. According to the Nielsen 2022 global sports marketing report, the number of inked deals for crypto-related sports sponsorships grew by 1100% between 2019 and 2021. Blockchain companies investing in sports sponsorship are projected to reach US$5 billion by 2026.
The drop in value of the global crypto markets in 2022 does not seem to have stopped blockchain companies from extending their outreach to sports fans through sports sponsorships. Sorare, a blockchain-based sports entertainment platform, has announced sponsorship deals with the English Football League (EFL) clubs of Burnley, Coventry City, Millwall, Norwich City and Watford.
This is not the first sports partnership deal for Sorare. Sorare has inked deals with the Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Spanish football second division (LaLiga 2).
According to the Nielsen 2022 global sports marketing report, sponsorship expenditures in early 2021 were up 107% versus the same period in early 2020, and advertising budgets continued building throughout the year. In late 2021, Crypto.com reportedly paid US$700million to acquire the naming rights over 20 years for the iconic Los Angeles Staples Centre. The Staples Centre was renamed the Crypto.com Arena.
In other crypto-sports-related deals, crypto companies like Coinbase and eToro participated in commercial breaks in February 2022, during Super Bowl LVI, in which 30-second spots cost up to US$7 million.
The report highlighted that sponsorships are increasing crypto awareness and interest among sports fans. “Notably, 52% of esports fans and 39% of sports fans say they are aware of crypto tokens, significantly higher than the general population. Not far behind, 24% of sports fans also express an interest in NFTs (nonfungible tokens)”, the report observed.
The report said that the future of crypto sponsorships would depend on two key factors: legitimacy and fan engagement. The report pointed out the importance of brand sponsorships in sporting events. A 2021 Nielsen “Trust in Advertising” Study found that 81% of global respondents either completely or somewhat trust brand sponsorships at sporting events.
The goal of brand awareness is to attain product utilisation. “For brands looking to sports for sponsorship opportunities as a way to engage with new audiences, long-term success will hinge on bridging the gap between awareness and conversion”, the report said.
Sorare aims to sign partnerships with more EFL clubs in the coming months and plans for a second-tier competition involving English, French, German and Spanish clubs.