Yesterday the Athletic reported that ConsenSys has won the Premier League non-fungible token (NFT) deal, and Dapper Labs landed video NFT football rights. We have not yet confirmed the news.
Last month the Premier League selected four finalist contenders for its football collectible rights with bids ranging from £220 million ($300m) and £434 million ($590m) over the next four years. Given that the League has selected two companies, the total figure might be on the upper end of that sum.
The NFT winners
ConsenSys might be a surprise winner as it hasn’t had a major sports rights deal so far. Just yesterday the company announced a $450 million round of funding on top of a $200 million investment just four months ago. The company’s focus has been more on technology and consulting, and it created the Palm NFT Studio with Warner Brothers as a backer.
When we chatted last year to Palm CEO Daniel Heyman, he set out a long term vision for NFTs as rewards rather than investment vehicles. If the same vision was presented to the League, that might have resonated.
None of the four finalists were British organizations, but ConsenSys has a UK office and two of the three founders of Palm Studios are UK organizations. So if Palm was involved in the negotiations, that might have helped.
It’s no surprise if Dapper Labs won the video rights. It pretty much defined the ‘moments’ space with NBA Top Shot and is following it up with NFL All Day as well as UFC Strike. NBA Top Shot is the highest grossing sports NFT with cumulative transactions of $948 million and ranks sixth across all NFTs.
From a distance, there could be some awkwardness between ConsenSys and Candy Digital, which was a contender. Candy Digital is a client of ConsenSys’ Palm and it currently specializes in the sports sector. Arguably this deal might be more important to Candy than ConsenSys. So far, Candy has NFT rights for the MLB and a group of NASCAR teams. The CEOs of ConsenSys and Candy founder Galaxy were college roommates. However, ConsenSys is a master at these sorts of issues. For example, it has working relationships with both Visa and Mastercard.
There’s a good chance that NFT fantasy soccer platform Sorare might have been the highest bidder as it has the deepest pockets of the contenders (at least until ConsenSys’ funding announcement yesterday). It already has individual deals with most Premier League teams, and Sorare’s fans were vocal about supporting the bid on social media.
However, Sorare is being scrutinized by the UK’s Gambling Commission. Whatever the League’s views on the merits of the investigation, out of prudence, this would have weighed against Sorare.
In response to this article a spokesperson from Sorare provided the following statement. “At the start of 2022, Sorare set a goal of bringing the world’s top 20 football leagues into our NFT-based free-to-play fantasy football game, which now has more than 1.5 million users globally and over 230 partner clubs, including all of LaLiga and Bundesliga. We are in active discussions with the world’s biggest leagues and clubs about potential partnerships. Some conversations take more time than others, but we are confident we’ll reach our goal. We cannot comment on any rumors or speculation regarding those discussions.”
Update: The article was updated with Sorare’s statement.