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AC Milan and FANBLOCK Partner to Digitise Football Pitch as NFTs.
AC Milan and FANBLOCK have partnered to make parts of the San Siro pitch and stadium into NFTs
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AC Milan and FANBLOCK Partner to Digitise Football Pitch as NFTs.
The Sporting Crypto Newsletter is supported by The HBAR Foundation.
Sports and Web3 partnerships have waned over the last 12 months for numerous reasons.
The exuberance we saw 18 months ago disappeared and some of these partnerships became untenable. You couldn’t just buy IP anymore and resell it digitally. As for sponsorships, since the FTX implosion just over a year ago, there has not been the same volume of them.
And so, the question whenever I see a Web3 partnership in sports nowadays is; how long will this last, and will this business survive in the long term? The way sports rights cycles work means there is a window of opportunity for anyone who partners from a Web3 perspective to make its mark in 1 of 2 ways:
If you do neither, you’re most likely on your way out when that deal cycle is up for renewal, unless you can find a huge cheque from somewhere.
Discussed in this Newsletter:
⬜ What is FANBLOCK?
🔴 The Partnership with AC Milan
⬜ What is FANBLOCK
FANBLOCK is a Web3 company whose proposition centres around ‘FANBLOCKS’.
FANBLOCKS are digital blocks of a football pitch that are connected to the real-life zone it matches.
There are 4 different times of block: Base, Premium, Rare and Ultra Rare — with rarity increasing the closer the digital block is to the goal.
When an action on the pitch happens, be it a goal, assist, cross, tackle etc, on your block, you are rewarded with ‘Block Points’. These are not on a blockchain, as far as I can tell.
You can also build your collection of ‘moments’ (video NFTs like Top Shot) that happen on your blocks.
Fanblocks are only active for one season, but you'll own the block itself forever.
🔴 The Partnership with AC Milan
The biggest FANBLOCK partnership we’ve seen to date has been with Italian football giants AC Milan.
AC Milan, FANBLOCK & Crossmint have partnered to digitise the San Siro stadium and pitch in the form of NFTs.
Fans are able to collect digital blocks of AC Milan's pitch.
A quick breakdown:
Fans can buy packs of FANBLOCKS, with each block representing a real-life physical block of the San Siro pitch
Match events that happen on these Fanblocks determine the points that are accumulated
Fans are rewarded with signed jerseys, VIP experiences and free tickets if specific actions happen on their Fanblock during an official game and they accumulate enough block points
The Fanblocks are only 'active' for a season but are ownable indefinitely
These 'Fanblock packs' cost between €𝟱𝟬-𝟯𝟬𝟬
Each pack gives you a different number of blocks with differing rarities, the more expensive the pack is the rarer the blocks inside it are
The gamified experiences are powered by data provider OPTA, and Crossmint are the tech vendor that AC Milan and FANBLOCK have partnered with
Maikel Oettle, Commercial Director of AC Milan said: "As a Club, we are always eager to explore new avenues to connect with our global fanbase, and Fanblock is a powerful way to strengthen that bond. Together, we are creating a new exciting way for fan interaction and a new experience for our fans worldwide."
Fanblock Founder and CEO Johan Greeff said: "We are excited to offer AC Milan fans a world-first opportunity to not only own a piece of their digital ground, but also to play and follow the action and data in real time and be rewarded for it. Fanblock aims to create interactive fan experiences that bring fans closer to their teams and action on the pitch.”
The beauty of a blockchain, when combined with sport, is that it solves a huge issue for clubs and leagues: they have little cross-pollination across verticals, and data crossover between silos is incredibly difficult due to how many partners are involved and how fragmented the fan experience is.
This solve that blockchain offers has to be the thinking when developing products like this longer-term.
But right now FANBLOCKS is essentially combining what we have seen with projects such as NBA Top Shots, or its soccer equivalents, with the idea of having digital ownership of a piece of a football pitch. This is a fairly novel but simply selling the FANBLOCKS cannot be the entire long-term proposition.
I have a few concerns, but the main one is the price point.
Between €50, €100, €200 and €300 respectively are the price points that fans can pay for Econo, Premium, rare and ultra-rare packs. I think the pricing is completely off and they have made a huge overestimation of European football fan spending on merchandise.
European football fans are already up in arms that they have to spend ~€100 on jerseys every year and are frustrated that ticket prices (for the most part) continue to rise amidst a cost of living crisis.
Below is a chart by Statista that highlights fan spending on their favourite English Premier League (EPL) side.
More than 30% of respondents said they had spent less than £20 on their favourite EPL team, with only 16% saying they have spent £83 or more.
Again these comparisons are not exactly like for like, but considering EPL fans are hesitant to spend even 3 figures on their favourite team, the pricing of the FANBLOCK packs seems off when looking at the market.
Even looking at NBA Top Shot, who have been around for 3+ years now and have a loyal audience, packs that are currently available are priced at $10, $69 and $79.
I appreciate that FANBLOCK will argue their proposition is tied to real-life utility such as the potential to win VIP fan experiences and tickets, but it’s still extremely expensive.
That utility also ends after one season, so their churn will most likely be high.
If you combine the money spent on these rights from AC Milan, or the chunk of revenue is shared, with the cost of OPTA data — this is likely an expensive Web3 proposition, with an expensive entry point.
Is this aimed at AC Milan fans? I think that’s the intention but won’t be the reality considering the pricing model.
Some NFT propositions have failed to travel across the pond from the States to Europe and mirror success. OneFootball’s Aera Marketplace where Serie A moments were sold is a great example of this. You’d think after NBA Top Shots’ amazing success, a European Football version was a slam dunk, right? But that was not the case at all with revenues smaller than anticipated, and a drop in the ocean compared to the prices paid for the rights. And I’m still seeing the presumption that successful US-based NFT sports propositions will work in Europe. OneFootball Labs are not the first to assume that success, and they will absolutely not be the last considering some of the conversations I’ve had, and some of the projects I’ve seen launch, over the past several months.
Clubs, leagues and federations need to decide whether their Web3 activations are executed for revenue and bottom-line protection or to reinvigorate and evolve their digital membership programs and touch points with fans globally. The former will be short-lived and not survive.
The latter will be where we see more sustainable, robust propositions using Web3 rails.
Ideally, you want to make a lot of money and engage a lot of fans when you do something like this, but my fear is that the AC Milan and FANBLOCK proposition will fall short on both fronts.
💡 Sporting Crypto Spotlight - Ep. 8 of the Podcast!
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More Sports & Web3 Stories
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World Football Summit highlights blockchain’s pivotal role in future of sports (Read more here)
Sportswear brands lead the way on NFT patents as fashion grapples with Web3 (Read more here)
Candy Digital see over 100,000 commemorative tickets claimed during the 2023 MLB season (Read more here)
RTFKT Teases Fortnite Map (Read more here)
General ‘Stuff’ that Could Impact You
From Bloomberg: More French people own crypto (9%) than stocks (7%) or ETFs (2%). (Read more here)
JPMorgan Switches On Programmable Payments Using Blockchain Tech (Read more here)
Polygon Village launches $90 million fund for ecosystem development (Read more here)
Roblox CEO 'dreams' of in-game cross-platform NFTs and digital objects (Read more here)
BlackRock's Ethereum ETF Plan Confirmed in Nasdaq Filing (Read more here)
Web3 game Illuvium Epic Games Store Listing (Read more here)
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