For NCAA Sports, the future is digital, and the future is right now
Imagine this for a moment.
You get tickets to your schools’ big rivalry game. You know, the one people talk about all year long? The one that everyone claims is the only game that matters?
Now imagine your ticket being a digital token.
Simple, easy, scan at the door.
Cool, got it.
Now, imagine some events happen in this game that will be talked about for decades. Think: Immaculate Reception, or Bill Buckner’s ball between his legs.
What if, as a ticket holder or that game, you had access to exclusive digital moments from that game that only you could hold on to or sell?
Of course, the schools would get royalties from any future sales, quite possibly the players involved as well, so it could work out for everybody involved.
The best part is that it doesn’t end with ticketing, and definitely not with just football or basketball.
College sports AD’s need to think about how NFTs can influence their program, and they need to think about that right now.
College sports are at a crossroads. One it would have gotten to at some point, but the pandemic of 2020 sped that up significantly.
According to the USA Today, the NCAA’s cancellation of last season’s Division I men’s basketball tournament because of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a $600 million annual decline in the association’s total revenue for its 2020 fiscal year, its new audited financial statement shows.
That’s a decrease of more than 50% compared to 2019.
The document, a copy of which was obtained by USA TODAY Sports, showed a $700 million decline in television and marketing rights revenue, nearly all of which came from the NCAA’s multimedia and marketing rights contract with CBS and Turner. In the association’s 2019 fiscal year, it reported nearly $868 million in such revenue.
The NCAA had been scheduled to receive $827 million from CBS and Turner for the 2020 tournament. According to the notes to the new financial statement, it ended up receiving $113.1 million.
College sports have some of the most dynamic content creators on the planet. From insane photography to cinematic video shots that have even influenced professional broadcasts, these teams know how to grab and keep attention.
College sports generate some of the most rabid fandom that remain die-hard for life. People bleed their schools’ colors.
Pick your favorite sports moment from your favorite school and tell me it wouldn’t mean more to you than the Mona Lisa?
There’s something else that happens in these moments. Rewatching them creates a feeling that is hard to replicate. The deep nostalgic vibe is hard to beat. The saying “all the feels” is what you get when watching your favorite highlight from your alma mater.
But what about new pieces of content that are created by teams almost daily?
Yes, I’m talking about social media.
Talking to creatives inside some of the premier college sports programs, the consensus is that the content that can generate revenue for schools is right under their noses with what they’re already creating on social media.
Tweets are available to be sold as NFT’s now. The site Valuables has quickly become famous for listing Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, which is set to fetch over $2.5M.
Why can’t college sports teams do the same?
As an Ohio State fan, seeing this tweet brings me so much joy, as if I was watching Ohio State whoop up on Clemson again. Trey Sermon’s glance to the camera was unforgettable. The tweet? Immortal.
With the amount of content available to sports teams via Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, why not let the content do more work?
There was a lot of time spent creating this content, and now, there can be real ROI on that spend that can be realized beyond social media analytics.
If programs want to get a jump start on this space with a very low barrier to entry, they need to start with the house content already being created.
I don’t think this stops with tweets and social media posts.
AD’s, coaches and school admins should be looking to partner with artists within their own schools and sports programs to create moment-specific NFT’s.
Additionally, I believe we will soon see a world where student-athletes can truly profit off of their NIL (name, image, likeness). It’s coming. School’s should be empowering them.
Two athletes making a splash with NFT’s is Rob Gronkowski and Patrick Mahomes. I believe this lays the groundwork for athlete-first creation and monetization.
The content and the personalities are already there. For NCAA programs to realize the full potential in this space, the time is now.