“Blockchain” isn’t just part of the “crypto bro” vocabulary anymore.
The San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, and Los Angeles Chargers can now sign sponsorship deals with blockchain companies, per a recent memo from the National Football League.
The move comes after the NFL made a big lobbying push in Washington D.C. this past year, according to CNBC.
“In this evolving regulatory environment, it remains essential that we proceed carefully when evaluating potential commercial opportunities involving blockchain technologies, and conduct appropriate diligence on all potential partners and their business models,” the memo noted, according to CNBC.
NFL separating blockchain marketing from crypto marketing
What’s most interesting about the recent announcement from the NFL is that the league remains anti-cryptocurrency.
In theory, that shouldn’t be a big deal. Cryptocurrency is a currency that you can buy, trade and sell. Blockchain, on the other hand, is like a digital chain of receipts verifying transactions.
So, though crypto typically needs a blockchain, a blockchain doesn’t need crypto.
As such, the NFL seems more than happy to allow teams to enter promotional deals with blockchain companies. Some of the biggest of these companies include:
- Coinbase Global
- Monex Group
- BIT Mining Ltd.
- Canaan Inc.
- Voyager Digital Ltd.
- HIVE Blockchain Technologies
Per the NFL’s rules for blockchain partnerships, you could attend a Chargers game, for example, and see a Coinbase Global ad on the big screen but not on signs in the stadium. Any contracts struck between a team and blockchain company will be capped at three years.
Don’t let the NFL’s willingness to allow said partnerships fool you into thinking the league is now pro-crypto. It still won’t allow teams to make deals with crypto companies.
Partnerships could generate big-dollar deals
There isn’t a precedent for the dollar value of a blockchain partnership in American professional sports. However, there is a precedent for crypto company deals. For example, the National Basketball Association generated $192 million in a deal with Coinbase.
“The freedom to participate and benefit from the things you believe in is at the heart of Coinbase’s mission. Nobody believes this more than NBA and WNBA fans. We’re proud to become the Leagues’ official cryptocurrency partner,” Coinbase Chief Marketing Officer Kate Rouch said in a statement.
The Golden State Warriors negotiated a $10 million deal with crypto platform FTX.
Other recent deals include:
- FTX paid $135 million for naming rights to the Miami Heat‘s arena
- FTX also struck a $210 million deal with esports company TSM
- Trade the Chain became the official crypto partner of the Texas Rangers, paying the team an undisclosed amount of crypto
In short, other leagues have been much more open to crypto; the NFL is lagging behind. However, the league seems intent on stoking business with blockchain companies, even if the deals may not be as high-dollar.
“We’re extremely bullish on blockchain technology,” NFL Head of Consumer Products Joe Ruggiero told CNBC. “We think that it has a lot of potential to really shape innovation, shape fan engagement over the course of the coming decade.”