A Glimpse into the Sports Metaverse

May 2022

Technology companies have often utilised the captive audiences of sports as a sandbox, illustration and advertisement from which to promote emerging technologies. The metaverse has become the newest macro-goal for many of the world's tech giants and, as a result, commercial opportunities are quickly being seized upon in the sports and entertainment industry. This briefing analyses the current state of play, future opportunities and challenges for sports properties.

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Key findings

Sports to play a functional role in helping “big tech” companies reach their goal

Technology companies have often utilised the captive audiences of sports as a sandbox, illustration and advertisement from which to test and promote emerging technologies. Creating the metaverse will greatly expand this already existing synergy.

In professional sports, virtual experiences are valued, but real experiences are king

In 2019, over 41 million fans attended a top-flight football match in Europe, while at the same, time in the US, around 70 million fans attended a baseball game. The ability to attend live sports was massively hindered by the pandemic, but all indicators show that the appetite for the “real” experience has not dissipated.

Immediate partnership opportunities are being seized upon

Flagship sponsorships from cryptocurrency exchanges, with the likes of the UFC and Formula 1, the rise of tradeable NFT sports collectibles, and a sustained push by legacy sports into the world of competitive esports all signal the eagerness with which sports properties are seizing the opportunity to grow digital revenues post-pandemic.

A myriad risks and challenges still stand in the way

Current sketches of the metaverse have thus far failed to consider the seismic challenges in terms of connectivity, computational power and energy required to bring about the metaverse. From a professional sports perspective, fans are often fickle and (not unlike consumers more generally) have real concerns regarding trust and transparency, not to mention a lingering digital fatigue that was increased by the pandemic.

introduction

Scope
Key findings

WHAT IS THE METAVERSE AND WHY WILL IT MATTER?

Defining the Sports and Entertainment Metaverse

What is the metaverse and why will it matter?

How will sports fans experience initial glimpses of the metaverse?
The value of spending on experiences
Challenges to winning over legacy sports fans
Will gaming and esports pave the way for the sports industry?
Combat sports capitalising on the metaverse
How real is the need for legacy sports to embrace the opportunity?
Summary:

Case studies that outline the future of sports and entertainment

From “things to sell” to “places to be”
VR concerts signal a wider shift into the metaverse
Crypto.com arena: one of many partnerships created to grow familiarity and acceptance
Dapper Labs signs virtual trading card deals with NBA and others
NFL leverages IP in Fortnite/Roblox
Sony develops virtual twin of Manchester City's Etihad Stadium
Disney: a vision of the metaverse integrated within physical theme parks
Utah Jazz: combining NFT drop with virtual locker room experience
Nurmagomedov vs Holloway: the first pro fight in the metaverse?
Summary

Key considerations looking forward

What to expect from the sports metaverse looking forward
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