This weekend we had the return of the National Rugby League (NRL) which was very positive for all sport and events in Australia. The sports code reportedly dominated TV screens across the country with it’s largest combined market share in six years.
“A total of 1.3 million viewers tuned in to watch Parramatta’s demolition job on Brisbane – the highest rating for a regular-season game since 2014”.
There was still one massive part of the puzzle missing, the fans.
Q: What is a quick solution to this problem?
A: Cardboard cutouts…#faninthestand.
Also facing a similar problem is a German soccer league Borussia Mönchengladbach who mentioned that “if the Bundesliga league, makes its expected return sometime in May, one team will have cardboard likenesses of its actual fans in the stands to greet them.”
I have no doubt that someone in Australia read this article, put two and two together, and decided to engage the NRL to implement a similar initiative #faninthestand.
“The initiatives have been designed to ensure the teams still feel the fans' presence inside the stadium, on-screen and online during the unusual circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic until the crowds can return.” - NRL
The process of getting your cardboard cutout and to become a #faninthestand was very simple: visit this link, snap or upload a picture of yourself, fill out some information, including payment details, and your cutout was placed in the stand.
Although this fan engagement worked and no doubt has been received well by the NRL community, it’s only a short term stopgap. So what’s next?
The future of fan engagement - Professional Athlete Investment Tokens (PAInTs).
With technology starting to really make its mark on the industry and Covid-19 having a massive impact on the increase of live streaming services, fan engagement platforms could soon become a source of income for athletes.
Spencer Dinwiddie a Brooklyn Nets Basketball player has just tokenised his contract and given fans the opportunity to have a say in his NBA future. To do this, “Dinwiddie has turned his three-year, $34.4 million contracts with the Nets into an investment vehicle called Dream Fan Shares, via which he will sell 90 SD8 tokens or Professional Athlete Investment Tokens (PAInTs)” - Bitcoin.com.
As the website states, “DreamFan Shares (DFS) is a new platform that uses the Ethereum blockchain to empower athletes, artists, and influencers to take control of their financial destiny by structuring debt securities represented by Professional Athlete Investment Tokens and Professional Artists Investment Tokens (PAInTs).”
For those that have no clue how this is possible, the flow chart below explains the process.
What does this mean for the future of fan engagement?
An athlete will be able to control their own finances via blockchain.
A consumer can have skin in the game, having more of a say about who plays in the team they support.
Sports leagues will become partly owned and operated by community members from anywhere in the world.
Additional opportunities for athletes, teams, and leagues to connect further with fans providing a marketplace to sell items e.g A player selling a pair of signed boots or a league auctioning the match-winning ball.
This initiative could also be replicated across other industries. Music Festivals could engage with punters and allow them the opportunity to choose which artists to add to an upcoming lineup or even determine songs on setlists.
This tech is still a few years away, however, a potential game-changer for the industry. Athlete-fan engagement initiatives will become a very powerful tool allowing athletes to connect with their fans on a whole another level.
If you would like to learn more about Spencer Dinwiddie’s new initiative, A16z hosted a great podcast which you can find below.
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