Lars Rensing: Metaverse Could Offer Sports Fans ‘A New Phase of Innovation’

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Lars Rensing is the CEO of blockchain solutions provider Protocolone arm ARCand has more than four years of experience in the growing metaverse market.

Rensing told Insider Sport how sports teams can leverage blockchain space and advanced technology to engage and grow their fan bases.

The premise of the metastore is simple – it’s a kind of digital universe. In this universe, users can purchase a virtual space (usually in the form of digital NFT collections). Metaverses like Decentraland already have a large following in the crypto and gaming space, but the technology’s applications go far beyond these industries.

Many industries have explored the technology and many of them have seen success. For example, Gucci Garden, a branded sandbox featuring themed rooms and a place to try and buy the brand’s limited edition digital clothing, launched on Roblox in May.

To some, the concept may seem like it just popped up out of nowhere. Despite being around for a while and gaining popularity in some circles, it wasn’t until Meta (formerly Facebook) announced that it would launch a metaverse, that the concept was launched into the mainstream.

However, one sector that is particularly poised to take advantage of technology is the sports industry. For sports, teams can use the digital universe to engage new and existing fans and open up brand new revenue streams in innovative ways.

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Increasing fan engagement is something that all teams should focus on. To increase fan engagement, sports teams can offer fans the kind of virtual experiences and rewards that can be offered in a virtual world.

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Lars Rensing of Protocol

NFTs – blockchain-based, immutable tokens that cannot be copied or changed – have a key role to play here. NFTs are the key to the metadata store. They have remained extremely popular this year already; The first three days of 2022 saw more NFT spend than the first seven months of 2021 combined.

One of the ways teams reward fans with NFTs in their metadata is to create virtual experiences. For example, teams can create a virtual version of their stadium in the metadatabase and sell NFTs to fans as tickets for tours. This is something we’ve seen before in football – Manchester City will create a virtual recreation of the Etihad Stadium. Selling tickets as NFTs at these locations is important because it means fans can enjoy a hassle-free and secure ticketing experience without the risk of fraud.

Indeed, the blockchain technology that underpins NFTs is extremely secure. Fans also have the advantage of having an undamaged collector’s item that cannot be tampered with from their journey. Virtual stadiums can both create new sources of income and make fans around the world feel more connected to their team. This commitment could go even further by allowing fans to visit parts of the stadium that they would not usually be able to see in person in a virtual recreation, such as training grounds, without sacrificing physical stadium safety.

In the future, fans can even train virtually with athletes (both physically training while connected to the virtual world) as a reward for purchasing team NFTs or fan tokens that can act as a fan’s virtual currency. This allows teams to offer personal and attractive prizes to more fans around the world. This will be especially useful for smaller teams looking to grow their fan base. Those who participate in the virtual training can also receive a special NFT to commemorate the experience and further reward fans for their interaction with the team.

NFT Wearables

Sports teams can take NFTs beyond just digital collectibles and take technology to the next level. For example, teams can create additional revenue streams and opportunities from NFT products in the metadata through NFT wearables. NFT suits are a type of NFT that can be worn by avatars rather than being stored as collectibles.

This may include custom or autographed player jerseys that may be worn by fans in games or in the Metaverse. For example, football fans can buy an NFT of a Ronaldo shirt and then wear it in a popular game like Fortnite. This can generate additional income for teams by selling to fans. Fans can also have provable collectible ownership with NFTs due to the transparent and secure nature of the blockchain.

NFT wearables also enable teams to create long-term, sustainable opportunities for fan engagement and engagement. Providing fans with exclusive collections they can use digitally can make fans feel more connected to their team and therefore more loyal. Especially for sports teams, these portable devices can play an important role in growing their fan base.

The video game and metaverse market these NFTs can migrate to is much larger than traditional sports audiences, so teams can use NFTs to promote their brand to a wider audience. It also has great potential for sponsors. Teams can create NFTs of their team’s jerseys, including sponsor logos that fans can wear later in games or in virtual worlds. This provides greater visibility for sponsors in the metadatabase and allows teams to create more profitable sponsor relationships and deals.

Events

Although live events are back after the pandemic, virtual events continue to provide an exciting opportunity for teams. Sports teams can use the metadata store to expand events beyond live games to reward their fans. Teams and athletes can broadcast live to fans at digital stadiums in Metaverse.

This allows fans around the world to watch matches on screens or in digital stadiums embedded in the metaverse, allowing teams to interact with global fan bases, especially those who are often unable to attend in person. Sitting in a virtual stadium rather than watching matches on TV or online can make participants feel as if they are watching the match in person within a virtual community of fans.

Such events would also have the advantage of being forward-looking evidence against any future outbreaks. NFTs will act as tickets to gain access to these events, and as with physical venues, fans can purchase a specific seat. There may even be subscriptions for games in the metadatabase facilitated by NFTs, opening up new possibilities for revenue, loyalty and fan engagement.

Equal access is also something the metadata store can help with; Fans who are unable to take a face-to-face tour for accessibility reasons can take a virtual tour of the Metaverse by simply needing an NFT ticket.

Metaverse is particularly exciting technology for sports teams, who can use technology to grow their fan base, create new revenue streams, and take their teams to a new level of innovation. Teams that want to use the technology alongside NFTs can be assured of benefits not only for the team itself, but also for sponsors and fans.