NBA team Dallas Mavericks, owned by billionaire and crypto enthusiast Mark Cuban, has begun issuing players profile pictures as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), The Mavs. A total of 20,000 NFTs are minted per basketball game, and fans are given it as a reward for attending the game in person.
Just two weeks ago, The Mavericks had its first full-capacity game since the start of COVID.
With the exponential growth of NFTs in the sports industry this year, it is surprising that the Mavericks are one of the first clubs to consistently use NFTs as a direct reward for attendance. Minting NFTs has minimal production costs and since the rewards are distributed digitally, there are few logistical concerns other than usability. The rewards scheme is also very accessible, with fans only needing to scan their Ticketmaster ticket at the stadium before the end of the first quarter to receive one of the minted NFTs for free.
The NFTs are collectible and there are additional rewards for completing collections, such as gathering ten NFTs.
According to Mark Cuban, the purpose of the project is to truly reward fans attending the games, which is why unclaimed NFTs are burned at the end of the game and the scan of the ticket needs to happen inside the stadium. That means people can’t just buy a ticket and not attend the game to receive a digital asset. It also fosters a sense of community around regular attendees and helps the club analyze the consumption behaviors of its target attendance market.
“The whole idea is not to try to sell (the NFTs) and try to make some money off them. The whole idea is to reward fans for coming,” said Mark Cuban in an interview with Forty Eight Minutes. “Let’s say Luka has a 30 assist game. There are going to be 500,000 people that say they were there, right? But the reality is, the people that are actually there and scan in are the ones that are going to get the NFT commemorating that game. And we’ll do something special for anything that happens in that game and the fan can hold it as a collectible or they can sell it somewhere else. We want it to be a value add for all Mavs fans that go to games.”
The Mavericks also launched a platform where fans can sell and trade their NFTs. As of now, there are 20,000 NFTs of six different team players that are trading from $200 up to almost $10,000.
While Mark Cuban is famous for his involvement with crypto and blockchain, more sports clubs will likely follow in the Mavericks’ footsteps with similar rewards initiatives.
It’s also not just about rewards. Profile picture NFTs have proven to be one of the most popular NFTs, but it hasn’t been fully embraced in sports. CryptoPunks and Bored Apes might be the most famous, but there are many more. Sports are tribal, so fans want to identify with their teams. What better way to do it than with profile pictures?
Mavericks partnered with NFT.kred to mint the NFTs.
Meanwhile, the club’s owner has been investing in a series of other projects in the industry, including intelligent NFT Alethea, NFT customization platform AlchemyNFT, digital marketplace Mintable, and NFT data aggregator CryptoSlam.