Web3 and the NBA

February 6, 2023

Web3 is the promise of a solution to traditional problems. Businesses should take time to reflect on the opportunities Web3 does and doesn’t offer. Brands and Fortune 1000 companies can take a traditional challenge and create something new through Web3. The NBA is leveraging Web3 in a way to create unique solutions for traditional problems.

Web3 and the NBA

Joey Graziano, senior vice president of global event strategy and management for the NBA, took to the stage at the D2 Summit to share how he and the event and marketing teams at the NBA have been approaching the possibilities of Web3. Right now, he says, we are at a seminal moment; “A moment when we need to take a step back and think about what the opportunity [of Web 3] is and what it isn’t,” he notes. The NBA, Graziano says, has been involved in the metaverse for a number of years. “Web3 is the promise of a solution to those traditional problems we all face,” he says, adding that it is not primarily the NFTs and gaming that we may think of, but rather how to engage your most enthusiastic fans.

The NBA, says Graziano, is focused on three problems which they hope to address in new and unique ways by leveraging Web3 applications:

Transitioning Cost Centers into Revenue Drivers

“For me one of the biggest cost centers is around décor and signage,” says Graziano. He says the NBA spends upwards of seven figures as they go around the world, trying to create a temporary home for its events. “It’s expensive to create a temporary home in all parts of our lives.” In 2022, during the All-Star Games in Cleveland, Ohio, he and his team came up with a way to tell the history of the All-Star games through various art installations in different locations in the city. At each exhibit, fans could then buy that particular exhibit or story in a digital or physical form. The promotion sold out 80% of its inventory within four days. A portion of the funds raised were then invested back into the city.

Reimagining the Seat License

“One of the things I’ve always struggled with is ‘who are our biggest fans,’” Graziano says. To address that, he and his team looked at ways to reimagine seat licenses. They launched the first-ever auction of 31 one-of-one digital collectibles that included a suite of rights that offered the rightsholder the “ultimate” NBA fan experience. The suite of rights included everything from being able to sit in via Zoom on marketing meetings to having back-of-house tours when physically at a stadium. The average purchase went for $60,000.

Repositioning Sports Collectibles

The NBA not only offered 75th anniversary commemorative NFT collectibles, but they also asked fans to “earn” the collectibles by completing certain activities. The collectibles sold out each day of the promotion. With the Cleveland Cavaliers, they also created a showcase for the collectibles that were familiar and specific to the NBA: a digital locker. Not only could collectors purchase the collectibles, but they could also then “show them off” to the world. This would ultimately add to their perceived value.

To learn more about how the NBA is leveraging the metaverse, watch the presentation here.

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