The Next Level
SPORTFIVE recently attended the iSportConnect Web3 Summit at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, where over 600 attendees from the sports industry participated in talks, workshops and industry networking over the two days.
It was a great opportunity to learn from industry experts, discuss ideas and connect with brands to potentially work with in the space.
What is Web3?
Web3 is, put simply, the third iteration of the world wide web.
It is focuses on decentralisation, a distributed ledger such as blockchain technologies, and token-base economics.
Cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, NFTs and the metaverse are perhaps the most commonly heard terms when it comes to Web3.
For reference, Web1 was represented by static pages on the web, where most users were consumers and not producers of content.
Web2 then saw the web become a platform, with user-created content on social media and blogs.
1. The meeting of the physical and digital worlds
The metaverse – whether you see it as a terrifying void which may somehow displace reality or just a concept that has no bearing on real life – it is a subject that a lot of sports-focused businesses are strongly considering.
A key element for these brands though is to not take away from the live sport element – but more to add to it with the use of technology.
BT have tested out 5G glasses which will enhance your experience whether watching the big game in the stadium or from the comfort of your own home.
You can imagine football clubs and other rights holders will look at this or similar technology to expand the matchday beyond the 90 minutes, by providing a platform in the metaverse for fans to connect, buy merchandise and even attend meet & greets with former players.
2. DAOs bring the community even closer to the action
You may have heard of cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the metaverse, and it looks like DAO is the next buzzword in the Web3 space.
A Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO) is a company constructed by rules encoded as a computer program that is often transparent, controlled by the organisation’s members and not influenced by a central government. Essentially, they are member-owned communities without centralised leadership.
DAOs are very much still a concept – but one brand has taken the step to make them become a reality.
LinksDAO is looking to shake-up the “establishment” associated with golf clubs & societies. The ambition for the DAO is to buy a golf course, with its members able to vote on where that golf course will be, what the holes will look like as well as other topics of the first course.
Community members can gain membership by purchasing an NFT, and will then have the right to buy an individual membership for the first LinksDAO course.
“The future of NFTs is in providing utility and value to a community, not collectibles. The community is the beating heart of the brand.” Jim Daily, LinksDAO.
At the start of this year, LinksDao sold over 9,000 memberships and raised over $10 million in 24 hours, with Steph Curry purchasing membership.
3. NFTs have a place in sports
NBA Top Shot is the perhaps the most successful NFT project to come out of the sports industry.
The platform enables the user to purchase the NFT of famous NBA highlights, with the Dapper Labs-NBA project chalking up over $1 billion in sales in the last two years, with its highest performing day claiming them close to $46 million coming in February 2021.
It is presumably only a matter of times before other high profile sporting divisions join the fray with similar projects.
One slight hurdle with NBA Top Shot is that the NFTs are only available two weeks after the event took place.
eShot Labs are looking to eliminate this, with the arrival of Live NFTs – which would be available within seconds of the event – and can be put on a 5-minute time limit to enhance its scarcity and therefore increasing value.
Don’t expect this to arrive overnight, with negotiations likely needing to take place around licencing – but it does create huge revenue opportunities for rights holders.
4. Businesses are being born & are evolving in the blockchain
Zilliqa has shown how much potential there is in this space, with the company’s founders creating a high-throughput public blockchain platform.
They then set up the first blockchain sharding architecture, which splits the network into multiple portions, enabling them to maintain transaction speed.
Zilliqa also produced their own blockchain cyber security, Scilla, a programming language that guarantees the safety of smart contracts. It became the first peer-reviewed smart contract language to enter a production platform.
Zilliqa has its own native token, ZIL, which enables and scales decentralised apps (dApps), from financial services to NFT marketplaces.
Transfer fees are at least 60 times lower than that of Ethereum, which sees over 30 dApps utilising the Zilliqa ecosystem.
The company is looking to solidify its place in the space by launching Metapolis – the first metaverse-as-a-service. Expect to hear more in the years ahead.
"Don’t put the tech first. What matters is content and the fan’s journey."
Sharon Fuller, Chief Content Officer
5. We are still ahead of the curve
Much of the conference was talking about concepts and watch what the future holds – rather than the here and now.
Sharon Fuller, Chief Content Officer at eSkootr Championship said: “Don’t put the tech first. What matters is content and the fan’s journey. We are more concerned about building content that is ready for Web3 than Web3 itself.”
Companies are currently putting research and development into Web3 – making sure they are well informed in the coming years for when the youth of today reach their 20s and become the target market.
Youngsters are well practiced with living in a metaverse and dealing with microtransactions when playing games such as Fortnite and EA Sports FIFA – so Web3 will be second nature to them in the coming years.
And of course, for regular fans – “Dave who drinks five pints before the Arsenal game” was mentioned – will not be the target consumer for these brands in the coming years – but that’s ok.
Web3 will not take away any of the experience for traditional fans, only add to the experience for those that wish to engage in these new environments.