After tracking the market for over a year, the NHL announced a league-wide multi-year partnership with the NFT platform Sweet on Thursday.
The league will launch a blockchain marketplace for digital collectibles and video moments later this year, with a focus on attracting fans both online and directly. The NHLPA and NHL Alumni Association are also part of the agreement. Sweet offers a minimum annual guarantee as part of the transaction, but no financial details have been disclosed.
In addition to buying and trading NFTs, destinations will allow users to build a digital trophy room to view their holdings. Certain NFTs can be redeemed for real benefits, from products to live experiences. Eventually, there will also be game elements that depend on the results on ice.
“NFTs are certainly valuable in their own right, but they are also valuable as potential links to these other experiences,” said Dave Lehanski, NHLEVP of Business Development and Innovation, in an interview. “And we give it about the same weight. That’s part of the reason we’ve spent as much time as we’ve done. It’s a market that makes all of this happen with our serious partners. Is to actually build a strategy about how to create it. “
Lehanski said the league met with more than 50 companies before making a list of finalists and finally choosing Sweet. One of the NHL’s priorities was having a custom market. The League, along with NHLPA and NHLAA, will be closely involved in product development with staff dedicated to the project.
“It literally spans all divisions of the league,” Lehanski said. “Have I ever seen something like this? Not much. It’s not so new, it’s moving so fast, it’s not affecting every aspect of our business.”
New York-based Sweets aren’t as well known in the sports world as their peers like Candy Digital (MLB’s main NFT partner) and Dapper Labs (NBA Top Shot, NFL All Day), but they’re never foreigners. There is none. The company already deals with multiple NBA teams, the Australian Open and F1 brands, and entertainment facilities from Burger King to Elton John.
Founded in 2017, Sweet was worth more than $ 100 million last fall when blockchain company Animoca Brands invested in the company. At that time, Sweet had over 600 brands using its platform and tools.
“We’re really good at game mechanics and the elements of consumer engagement, detailing this about our fans and experience, and providing a new way to evaluate the league,” said Sweet founder Tom Mizzone. Said in an interview. “From day one, the NHL was very much in line with what we were trying to understand. How do you connect them to these things that not only own the work, but also add value to the fans?“
The NHL also continues to seek to find additional partners in the fantasy NFT gaming space, hoping for the possibility of connecting the two experiences.
Thursday’s announcement can be read as a sign of a commitment from the sports industry to continue to integrate blockchain technology into its business, despite the recent plunge in the value of cryptocurrencies.
“This is to create a fan experience, to understand how this connects to everything else we do and everything else fans want to do and get out of the NHL fandom. “Lehanski said. “Volatility will increase in the next year or two, but we’re actually building it in the longer term.”