NBA team LA Clippers have signed a partnership with blockchain platform Socios.com. The basketball team will use the Socios app for fan engagement and rewards, but there are no plans for fan tokens at this stage. Socios will gain exposure through the Clipper’s social media platforms and hospitality experiences as part of the deal.
In the sports industry, blockchain-based solutions focused on enhancing fan engagement are becoming widespread. Of the available offerings, non-fungible tokens (NFT) and fan tokens stand out.
While NFTs are a kind of digital collectible, fan tokens are closer to mainstream cryptocurrencies, although they provide fan engagement such as voting on club decisions. Given the uncertain legal position of cryptocurrencies in the United States, this may be why no NBA teams plan to launch fan tokens as yet. Nonetheless, Socios has inked deals with several NBA teams, including the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Philadelphia 76ers.
Over the past couple of months, the number of NFT platforms operating in the sports industry increased significantly. On the other hand, there are far fewer fan token platforms. Socios was one of the first to launch at the end of 2019 and remains one of few.
If the deals are exclusive, being the first big player in the sector gives Socios a first-mover advantage as no other platform will be able to license the clubs and leagues in its network. We’re not aware of any sports team with multiple fan token contracts, while a few clubs and leagues operate more than one NFT project.
Socios has been able to sign over 50 major sports clubs in its network, including top European football teams such as PSG, Arsenal, and Manchester City. In the last seven months, the platform increased its roster of partners by more than 30. The company says Socios has generated more than $150 million in revenue for sports teams in 2021.
The partnership with the Clippers can likely be attributed to Socios’ effort to penetrate the top American sports leagues.
“At the Clippers our fans come first, and our relationship with Clipper Nation is built around engaging, seamless interactions with fans at every touchpoint,” said Scott Sonnenberg, Chief Global Partnerships Officer, LA Clippers. “Socios.com is a global fan engagement leader, and like us they understand how technology and innovation drive the sports industry forward.”
In March, Socios creator Chiliz said it would invest $50 million to expand its outreach in the United States. Since then, it has announced a partnership with NHL team New Jersey Devils and several other NBA teams.
Meanwhile, Socios’ main competitor Bitci is the licensee for F1 team McLaren’s fan tokens. Top Turkish football team Fenerbahce launched its product with crypto trading platform Paribu.