Last week OneFootball pulled the plug on its AERA NFT marketplace which will close at the end of the month. In May the company boasted 170 million users across its entire platform, but just a tiny proportion embraced NFTs. It launched Serie A soccer NFT video moments to much fanfare a year ago. That was after raising $300 million in funding in April 2022, ostensibly to expand its web3 ambitions. It announced a joint venture with Dapper Labs and Animoca Brands.
However, this news is perhaps more about OneFootball than it is about web3, NFTs and sports. Simple research shows that some sports web3 platforms are still very active, even if the prices are lower than last year. In some cases not as low as one might expect.
Troubles at OneFootball
OneFootball shuttered its AERA web3 platform a week after the founder of OneFootball stepped down as CEO. According to the German newspaper Handelsblatt he was pressured to step aside as the company allegedly is behind on its sports rights payment to football leagues, including money for video streaming rights. The German Football League is reportedly owed €60 million ($66m).
Late last year the company shed 62 employees, and in February it let go another 150 people. In addition to several web3 backers, its investors include several clubs such as Manchester City, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Juventus and others.
OneFootball AREA NFTs
A few of the NFT collectible holders are somewhat upset. The NFTs will still exist, but the AERA community, competitions and marketplace will cease. There had been plans for more functionality and additional leagues. Last year the German Bundesliga said it had sold NFT video moment rights to OneFootball but we’re not aware of it launching.
On social media, a handful of AERA fans reacted negatively accusing One Football of a scam. But given there are 50,000 fans that own the 250,000 collectibles, the response was relatively tepid. They bought packs costing from $9 to $199 depending on the rarity, each with three or four NFTs. Relatively few NFTs are on sale on the marketplace – there are less than 300 listings.
In a statement, the company said, “As well as many others in the Web3 space, (we) have faced some major challenges.” It continued “We have not found a route through – one that is commercially viable for OneFootball and our partners, as well as one that will the breadth and depths of offering for all of you.” The platform is operated by Dapper Labs, the company behind NBA Top Shots.
The state of sports NFTs
Last year we wrote about how sporting NFTs dominated the top ten charts when it came to volumes of NFTs traded rather than price. In fact, that hasn’t significantly changed even if the prices are lower. When it comes to the volume of NFT transactions, two of the top three NFT collections of any genre are for sports NFTs. In contrast, last September it was two of the top four.
However, the standout successes are fantasy sports games (Sorare and Draft Kings). In other words, NFTs with functionality have more success than pure collectibles. June isn’t a great time for favorable comparisons as several sports are not in season, so one would expect to see activity lower compared to September 2022 last year.
|Units traded||Sales June 2023||Units traded|
|NBA Top Shot||$4.3m||213k||$1.7m||102k|
|NFL All Day||$15m||484k||$700k||49k|
In related news, Candy Digital recently merged with Palm Studios.