Sports fan loyalty- How fan tokens are changing the game

For sports teams in today’s market, there has never been a more important time to look at diversifying revenue streams to overcome the impact COVID has had on drops in attendance, ticket sales and also sponsorship. 

This problem is accelerating the adoption of innovative digital solutions, such as blockchain fan tokens, to not only increase fan engagement but provide novel revenue streams for sports organisations. 

Blockchain: How it assists sports teams

Blockchain has seen a boom in recent years across a number of industry verticals, with the innovative technology providing use cases to improve systems, security and overall utility for a number of industry verticals. One industry that has seen acceleration in adoption of the technology is the sports industry, with blockchain providing the foundations to improve fan engagement, new revenue streams and even altering the entire match ticketing landscape.

While sporting teams have now become acutely aware of this technology, there is still confusion around what it is and how it may be implemented for their own organisation, that aligns with their overall business objectives.

The current pandemic has proven just how essential a strong and supportive fan base is, a fan base that can survive on more than match days alone.

We will explore fan tokens in more detail in the article to help sports organisations understand fan tokens specifically and how they can be adopted to fit their objectives.


What are fan tokens?

The term ‘fan token’ is like a digital access pass, which can represent value and ownership, that a fan of a specific sports team, owns and gains value from. There is a vast spectrum of benefits and uses that can be applied using fan tokens.

Fan tokens are a finite resource which are able to be bought, traded and sold by users, which creates a unique economy for the team or league. They can also then work as a currency and be interchangeable for merchandise, collectables, exclusive interactions eg. VIP experiences. or even sponsor offers.

Fan tokens from the perspective of the user are simple to use and easy to understand, as they act similarly to points in a loyalty program that can be topped up or awarded. A fan token platform is a gentle introduction to the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, which can otherwise present a steep learning curve to those new to the tech – the blockchain technology it operates on sits predominantly in the backend.


What can fans do with fan tokens?

Tokens created on a blockchain can be programmed to have many different uses for the fans and can offer exciting benefits and bonuses that connect fans closer to their team.

  • Voting – fans can vote on non critical team decisions such as what away jersey will be worn or what song will be sung after each goal scored. With blockchain, votes are verifiable, secure and binding, meaning that fan votes actually count towards the final decision.
  • Games and challenges – teams can use fan tokens as an access pass for fans to participate in games, challenges or events. Fans can compete in the games and challenges to earn rewards such as more fan tokens, status credits or even one off prizes.
  • Sell tokens – fans can sell their fan tokens to other users. Fan tokens increase or decrease in value depending on the popularity of the token and the perceived value by its users.
  • Earn rewards – fans can use tokens as their access key to earn rewards, such as interacting with the team via social media, purchasing game tickets or merchandise and much more. Teams can dictate what fan behaviours will result in rewards won.
  • Exchange for items or experiences – fans can use tokens as actual currency and exchange them for game day ticket discounts, merchandise, to enter into exclusive competitions or the chance win VIP experiences, such a meet and greet with their favourite player. They can also use tokens to exchange for team sponsor discounts or prizes.
  • Access unique experiences while at a game – fan tokens can be used by fans to unlock exclusive experiences or offers while attending a game. Teams can use fan token technology to accurately verify fan attendance, while unlocking special discounts, interactions or competitions while at the game. This further incentivises fans to physically attend games instead of the ever-increasing push to stay at home and watch the game from the couch.


What are the benefits of fan tokens for sports teams?

The benefits of adopting fan tokens into a sports team are many:

  • Generate additional revenue streams via
    • Fan token sales and subsequent peer-to-peer resale of tokens (via micro transaction fees)
    • Increasing game day ticket sales. Utilise fan tokens as rewards to incentivise fans to attend matches.
    • Increasing merchandise sales. Fans use tokens to either redeem for merchandise discounts or as a method to integrate exclusive, limited edition merchandise for the most engaged fans.
    • New sponsorship streams. Generate more revenue from sponsors through naming rights on matches, in app games or challenges and allow sponsors to purchase their own team tokens to reward fans for desired actions or behaviours.
    • Accurate, valuable user data to drive relevant product sales. Use fan tokens to encourage fans to interact with your fan token platform and gain insights into their individual interests to deliver hyper targeted product advertising and messaging.
  • Increase fan engagement beyond just the standard game day offering,
  • Attract fans to attend matches – by optimising the game day fan experience and offering exclusive opportunities for token owners who verifiably attend games.
  • Value add to current sponsors and attract new sponsors by integrating them into the fan token ecosystem
  • Generate accurate, valuable data insights from fan behaviour who interact through fan tokens

How are fan tokens different from NFTs?

In a sense, fan tokens are like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) with one big difference. While NFTs give ownership rights by virtue of digital copyright that cannot be exchanged, fan tokens are completely interchangeable. One fan token within an ecosystem will have the same value as another fan token (like a standard currency), while one NFT is identifiably unique to another, with each carrying independent value.

Franchise teams versus league-governed teams: NFT or fan token?

The key takeaway for sports teams when determining whether to use fan tokens or NFTs, is to acknowledge the inherent differences with how each can be applied and the governance restrictions that may apply.

NFTs are more complex to incorporate into teams that sit under the governance of a sports league and that do not have the authority to make decisions involving intellectual property that may be included with the NFT. Generally, a collaborative agreement between the sports team and the governing league needs to be agreed upon to implement NFTs with associated IP. Teams who operate under a franchise model have more flexibility with implementing NFTs, as they often own the IP that will be utilised to create the NFT itself.

Fan tokens, however, offer a simple, uncomplicated way to incorporate fan engagement technology built on blockchain, without the associated complexities of having to negotiate IP rights that can come with NFT generation and sales.

SparkUp Studios blockchain fan token solutions

At SparkUp Studios, we specialise in providing enterprise blockchain fan engagement solutions for sports teams. Our white-label fan token engagement platform allows teams to leverage the powers of underlying blockchain technology (fan tokens and/or NFTs) while providing an easy to use interface for their fans.

Our team comprise of experts in both the blockchain and fan engagement industries and understand the requirements of teams looking to get ahead and leverage this new technology. We focus on taking your solution from testing to implementation and into full production in line with the specific needs of your team, your fans and your sponsors.

If your team wants to understand in greater detail how blockchain technology can assist you in overcoming your challenges and achieving your business objectives, speak to one of our expert team members. We’ll assist you to understand how blockchain can help you engage with your fans, reward engagement, drive better return on investment for sponsors and diversify your revenue streams.

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