Cryptocurrency supporters say it’s the future of money and a viable hedge against inflation. They believe the associated risks are worth the potentially immense rewards. Indeed, the tendency for digital assets such as Bitcoin to rise quickly is well known.
Opponents of crypto often highlight its volatility and lack of intrinsic value. They suggest it is a bubble that’s certain to burst. It is unknown whether this is the case, but there’s unquestionably room for growth. Constant innovations within the digital coin sector mean possibilities abound.
Crypto companies, for their part, understand the need for credibility and visibility. Therefore, a growing number of them are spending big on sports advertising to try and win the hearts and minds of the general public.
Such organizations now sponsor sports from all over the world, from soccer in England’s Premier League to baseball in the United States. Here are 10 of the biggest sports sponsorships involving crypto partners.
We begin our list of crypto partnerships with the very first example of a company in the sphere trying to hit the mainstream. The St. Petersburg Bowl (now called the Gasparilla Bowl) is an NCAA-sanctioned post-season college American football game played in Tampa.
In 2014, BitPay, an Atlanta-based Bitcoin payment service provider, made a big move in sponsoring the game. It saw an opportunity to showcase crypto in a 3-hour nationally televised spotlight on the day after Christmas. In theory, it was the perfect chance to introduce Bitcoin to an audience that otherwise has little knowledge of the concept.
Attendees had the chance to use Bitcoin ATMs located within the stadium to try it out by purchasing hot dogs, beers, and whatever else was for sale. Ultimately, BitPay planned to sponsor the St. Petersburg Bowl for two years at an estimated cost of $500,000 per year. Ultimately, the company ended the sponsorship after the first game.
The world probably wasn’t ready for Bitcoin back then, but this particular crypto sports sponsorship paved the way for others.
Getting involved in the English Premier League is the Holy Grail for advertisers, and CashBet Coin, a crypto iGaming platform, achieved this feat in 2018. Not only that, but the company aligned itself with Arsenal FC, one of the best-supported clubs in England.
Arsenal announced its partnership with the platform, stating it was the club’s first official cryptocurrency and blockchain partner. The goal was to help ensure that CashBet Coin, the company’s digital coin, would benefit from global brand awareness.
As crypto deals go, it seemed like a solid plan. It ensured that the brand could advertise to the 60,000 fans in attendance at Arsenal’s home games, not to mention an enormous TV audience.
However, the value of CashBet Coin dropped from $0.21 at its launch in June 2018 to under $0.001 less than a year later. It has since recovered to exceed $0.05 on occasion.
This is perhaps not a cryptocurrency sports partnership to set the pulses racing, but it was significant nonetheless. TIXnGO is a blockchain mobile tickets platform, and the deal activated secure mobile tickets for all international and domestic fixtures at the Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground.
It also ensured that Lancashire became the first UK organization in any industry to activate blockchain secure mobile tickets. One of the main aims is to decrease the possibility of fans buying fake tickets. It becomes easy for ticket holders to transfer or resell their tickets with fully traceable tickets legally. It also adds an extra layer of convenience and security to online ticket purchasing.
While CashBet decided to focus on a single English Premier League club, eToro chose to go big and approached numerous top teams in England.
The social trading platform based in Israel, which gives users the chance to invest in stocks and crypto, signed crypto sponsorships with the following seven teams:
It is estimated that the deal’s total cost was around £6 million, which eToro paid in Bitcoin!
AntPool is considered among the top 5 crypto mining pools globally, and it got some much-warranted attention when it inked a deal with the Houston Rockets NBA franchise.
It was a sponsorship that made sense. After all, Bitmain owns AntPool and is based in China, where the Rockets have a significant following because the nation’s most famous player, Yao Ming, spent nine years there.
It was part of AntPool’s plan to invest approximately $500 million in the state of Texas.
Chiliz is a blockchain firm that aligned itself with Barcelona FC, one of the world’s most famous soccer teams, in February 2020.
This particular crypto deal involved Chiliz creating 40 million Barca Fan Tokens worth €2 apiece when launched. They went on sale so Barca fans could purchase, earn, and redeem tokens around different activities.
Those who bought the tokens early are probably pleased with the outcome, as their value has exceeded €7 at stages during the intervening period.
Crypto.com is a well-known cryptocurrency platform, and it has made not one but two major moves as far as cryptocurrency partnerships are concerned. The first was with Formula One in June 2021.
It is one of the biggest crypto deals of all time, worth an estimated $100 million! It is money well spent for the company as it ensures outstanding slots at the sprint qualifying rounds at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The news came three months after Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One and McLaren F1 entered into deals with crypto firms.
A company rarely manages to outdo itself so soon after making a big breakthrough, but crypto.com did that within a month of its landmark Formula One deal.
The platform signed a 10-year deal with the UFC in July 2021 worth an estimated $175 million. Crypto.com branding will feature on fight kit items such as the hoodies and shirts worn by the fighters before they enter the Octagon.
The organization will also own the rights to a new sponsorship category within the UFC called ‘Cryptocurrency Platform Partner.’
Bitci.com is a Turkey-based blockchain platform, and it put its money where its mouth is by signing a deal with McLaren F1 in March 2021. According to the official McLaren website, the agreement involves the launch of a McLaren fan token, the first of its kind in F1. The token will work on Bitci Chain.
The deal also involves Bitci.com branding featuring on McLaren race cars and driver helmets. The token was worth $0.48 upon its launch in October 2021 and quickly rose to $0.80.
However, its value soon plummeted below $0.30. It remains to be seen whether the McLaren token can regain lost ground.
We conclude the round-up with a sponsorship between FTX, the enormous cryptocurrency exchange, and Major League Baseball (MLB). The two organizations signed the deal in June 2021.
It is significant because it represents the first time a crypto exchange has ever sponsored a professional sports league in the United States.
FTX also reached an agreement with the MLB’s Players Association to use player highlights in its content. Umpires in MLB games will have the FTX.US logo on their sleeves, and the exchange will benefit from advertisements shown across nationally televised games.
It is the latest in the company’s advertising spending. While the value of the FTX sponsorship with MLB is unknown, we’re aware that the deal with TSM, an eSports organization, is worth $210 million. It is the latest in the company’s advertising spending. Meanwhile, FTX also signed a $135 million deal for naming rights to the Miami Heat’s stadium. The NBA franchise’s stadium is now called the FTX Arena.
Although it ultimately wasn’t a successful union, the deal between BitPay and the St. Petersburg Bowl was the start of something big. The general public’s skepticism of cryptocurrency is eroding, and companies within the sphere can sense the tide is turning. This is why they want to push their advantage by signing lucrative sponsorship deals with franchisees in different sports.
The bigger these deals get, the greater the level of attention, and this is precisely what organizations like FTX, crypto.com, and eToro want.
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