The PGA Tour plans to launch non-fungible token (NFT) initiatives with digital platforms Sorare and Autograph, according to Golf.com. Under the project structures, which has not yet been confirmed by the parties involved, players are expected to earn revenue based on the sales performance of NFTs where their name, image and likeness (NIL) are used.
The news is based on an email sent to golfers.
Autograph was co-founded last year by American football player Tom Brady as a platform for athletes and celebrities to drop branded NFT collections. Legendary golf player Tiger Woods is a board advisor and equity holder, among other sports stars.
This may be Autograph’s first league deal where it has rights to mint NFT’s based on licensed video footage. Dapper Labs launched the genre with its NBA Top Shot game which it followed up with NFL All Day, the UFC, Spain’s La Liga soccer, and others.
Sorare has rights for NFT video rights for German soccer league, Bundesliga. However, its main product is a digital fantasy sports game based on NFTs. Until now, the company valued at $4.3 billion, has focused mainly on soccer and acquired partnerships with almost every major club in Europe and America. A deal with the PGA Tour for fantasy trading cards would become one of its first expansions into other sports. It recently signed tennis star Serena Williams as an adviser.
Golf is one of the more crypto-friendly sports, likely because it attracts a wealthy audience with many of the same characteristics of crypto’s core market. Research by MorningConsult found that 37% of PGA Tour fans own crypto compared to 32% of NBA fans and 27% of NFL followers. A golf startup looking to purchase a golf course through crypto, LinksDAO, raised $11 million at the beginning of the year.
Compared to other sports, given the PGA Tour is not team-based, the league needs athletes’ individual approval to use their NIL. For both NFT projects, golfers will have to “sign up” for Sorare to mint trading cards of the athletes or for Autograph to drop NFTs featuring their highlights.
For Autograph’s project structure, not having all players signed up may not pose too much of an issue. That’s because the platform can still create utility using NIL-based content from a few athletes, as it has previously done through individual partnerships. However, for Sorare, without most athletes signing up, the fantasy sports structure may not be as engaging for fans.
PGA Tour golfers who opt-in will earn a lump sum based on their playing performance at the previous year’s Fedex Cup. Additionally, they will earn pro-rata royalty payments based on the market performance of their respective NFTs and trading cards. Athletes can still launch their own NFT collections, but they will not be allowed to use Tour-licensed images.
Meanwhile, another initiative in the golf realm is Warner Media’s NFT based golf game.