NASCAR has partnered with non-fungible token (NFT) project Virtually Human Studio (VHS) in an effort to reach a younger demographic of fans. VHS operates digital horse racing game ZED Run, which will now feature NASCAR branded horses.
VHS is a company that is looking to use blockchain and other emerging technologies to enhance fan engagement through virtual reality-like solutions. The startup was founded in 2018 and currently, ZED is its only operating game.
Last month, the platform raised $20 million in a Series A round of funding led by The Chernin Group and Andreesen Horowitz to accelerate the development of ZED Run.
In the ‘real world’, horse racing is an exclusive sport. It requires access to a horse stable, time and effort to train a horse, and most importantly, considerable financial resources. The average price of a racehorse is over $76,000 and the cost to enter stake races starts at around $3,000, and rises to $50,000.
ZED Run is supporting an ecosystem that enables users to buy, sell, breed and race digital racehorses as NFTs. Race entry fees cost between $2 and $15, and users can invest as much as they want to develop their digital asset. The experience does not compare to the process of horse racing in the real world, but it has built an engaged and dedicated community of digital horse racing fanatics. For people interested in the sport without the financial means to participate, ZED Run is one alternative.
The game has reached over 100,000 users and recently partnered with Atari and Stella Artois. With Atari, ZED Run auctioned 20 one of a kind Atari-themed racehorse-skinned NFTs on marketplace OpenSea, raising over $410,000. Similar to NASCAR, the partnership with Stella Artois saw the launch of exclusive racehorses on the platform as well as branded 3D racetracks.
For NASCAR, branding digital horses is aimed at generating interest in the auto racing league from a younger audience. In 2006, the average age of NASCAR TV viewers in the U.S. was 49. By 2016, the average had gone up to 58 years of age. The brand exposure through ZED Run is an effort towards engaging a younger audience.
“Our teams are aligned in vision and share a passion for using technology as a launchpad to discover a new audience, one that is deeply engaged,” said NASCAR’s Chief Digital Officer Tim Clark. “Partnerships like the one with VHS, have the ability to revolutionise the NASCAR brand by bridging the gap between an age-old sport and innovative new technology.”
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola launched NFTs through virtual reality platform Decentraland. Spiderman’s Marvel will launch NFT collectibles and Blueberry launched in-game clothing as NFTs in partnership with Mythical Games.