Oct 20, 2023
The world of sports has always revolved around competition, community, and bringing fans closer to their favorite teams and athletes. However, in recent years, the metaverse’s emergence is changing the way audiences consume sports and build their loyalty towards sports clubs and athletes. In this blog post, we will explore the growing influence of the 3D internet on the sports industry and how it is reshaping fan engagement. From virtual stadiums to NFT collectibles, we will delve into the innovative ways the metaverse is transforming the future of sports fan interaction.
Virtual sports arenas
Virtual sports arenas in the 3D internet are revolutionizing fan experiences by leveraging technology to create immersive and interactive environments beyond traditional in-person or televised sports events. This transformation is primarily driven by integrating virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies, allowing fans to participate in the action.
Here's how virtual sports arenas are changing the way fans engage with sports:
Immersive viewing: Virtual sports arenas allow fans to watch games from various viewpoints through 360-degree viewing capabilities or VR technology. They can switch between different camera angles, including player perspectives or drone footage, providing a more immersive and personalized viewing experience, making fans feel closer to the action.
Avatar participation: In virtual sports arenas, fans can create digital avatars that represent them in the virtual world. These avatars can interact with other fans and players, making the experience more social and engaging. Fans can use their avatars to chat with friends, cheer on their favorite team, or even compete in virtual games within the arena.
Interactive elements: Virtual sports arenas often include interactive elements, such as virtual merchandise stores, mini-games, and trivia contests. Fans can purchase virtual team jerseys, participate in halftime challenges, or test their sports knowledge against other fans.
Here are some examples of how the sports industry is leveraging the metaverse:
The National Basketball Association (NBA) virtual fan experience: The NBA introduced a virtual fan experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans could join games via Microsoft Teams and appear on LED screens surrounding the court. They could cheer, interact with players, and attend virtual press conferences.
FC Barcelona virtual reality experience: FC Barcelona has a Barça Virtual Zone where fans can virtually tour the Camp Nou stadium as avatars, watch historic games in VR to witness iconic victories and goals and participate in interactive experiences.
Etihad Stadium's digital twin in the metaverse: Manchester City collaborated with Sony to create a virtual replica of their stadium in the metaverse. The virtual Etihad Stadium will offer fans virtual experiences, customizable avatars, and interactive loyalty programs, enhancing the connection between the club and its global fanbase.
The metaverse has revolutionized how sports fans access and engage with sports statistics, player insights, and live commentary. It has created an immersive platform for fans to connect with the sports world in real time.
Here's how the metaverse enables enhanced interactivity in sports viewing experiences:
Real-time access to sports statistics: In the metaverse, fans can access real-time sports statistics through dashboards and interfaces displayed on a user's device, headset, or glasses. These statistics include player performance metrics, team stats, and historical data.
Player Insights: 3D internet platforms and technologies allow fans to delve deep into player insights through AR, VR, or smartphones. Users point their devices or AR glasses at players to their profiles, each player's real-time best play options, game heat maps, and stats like distance covered or personal scores.
Live commentary: Fans can enjoy live commentary within the metaverse from trusted sources like sports analysts, commentators, and fellow fans. Commentators can present their opinions in various formats, including text, voice, or even through holographic projections of themselves. Users could also join virtual sessions to watch the game with friends and engage in discussions while it unfolds.
Informed predictions: In 2022, sports betting saw explosive growth, becoming the fastest-growing segment in commercial gaming, with a global market value of $83.65 billion, as per Grand View Research. A Deloitte report also found that sports bettors are a highly engaged demographic, more loyal, invest more, and buy more merchandise than non-bettors, making them a significant contributor to the sports industry. The sports industry can leverage this by creating personalized VR sports betting experiences, allowing users to watch games and place wagers simultaneously. Additionally, artificial intelligence (AI) can enhance the betting experience with advanced statistics, predictive insights, updated odds, and possible player trajectories to help audiences make more informed decisions and keep them engaged.
Virtual fan merchandise and collectibles
Sports organizations and franchises are beginning to see the potential of web3 and the metaverse to reach audiences, build communities, and drive engagement and loyalty. Digital fan merchandise and non-fungible token (NFT) collectibles are becoming increasingly popular and are central to fan engagement in the virtual world.
Fans can personalize their avatars with sports team-branded virtual apparel, accessories, and shoes. These digital items can drive engagement by allowing fans to proudly display their loyalty by outfitting their digital personas with items representing their favorite teams or players. Whether a user wears a player’s jersey or sports team-themed accessories, digital merchandise enables fans to showcase their allegiance in virtual spaces.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and collectibles
NFTs are unique digital assets representing ownership of specific digital items and have become a popular avenue for buying and trading digital collectibles. Sports teams can release limited-edition NFTs like video clips that capture memorable moments from games, trading cards, or fan tokens that could give individuals special rights and access to events. Owning these NFTs gives fans a sense of exclusivity and ownership, loyalty, and a deeper connection to their favorite teams or athletes.
Success stories in sports fan engagement
NBA Top Shot
NBA Top Shot, developed by Dapper Labs, has achieved remarkable success in engaging fans through its innovative approach to digital collectibles. By leveraging blockchain technology to create non-fungible tokens (NFTs) representing officially licensed NBA highlights or "moments," the platform has instilled a sense of scarcity and ownership in the digital realm.
As of 2021, NBA Top Shot had over 1 million registered users, and more than half a million of NBA Top Shop assets had generated a volume of nearly $1 billion since its inception, as published by Forbes. Fans are drawn to owning exclusive pieces of basketball history, fostering a strong bond with the platform.
Manchester United’s digital collectibles for fans
Manchester United partnered with a Tezos-powered platform to introduce digital collectibles to reward their fans. These digital collectibles, or NFTs, were gifted to fans so they could own a unique United digital asset and become part of the club's web3 journey, with more purchasable NFTs throughout the season. The club also launched a virtual world accessible via its Discord channel, providing fans a platform to interact with players, legends, and fellow supporters. Fans with digital collectibles could access exclusive communities on Discord to submit ideas for future collectibles and share matchday experiences with the virtual community. This initiative reflects the club's commitment to embracing emerging technologies and providing unique and engaging experiences to fans worldwide.
National Football League (NLF) on Roblox
The National Football League invested in NFL Tycoon, a Roblox video game designed to educate young fans about the game's business aspects and enable them to foster social connections. Young fans can participate in the interactive shared metaverse experiences by taking on the role of a team owner, building a custom stadium, creating a team, and competing with players. Users can also earn limited-edition virtual items as rewards in the game. A league representative mentioned that the NFL continuously gains insights into how the next generation of fans wishes to engage with the league in the 3D internet, particularly regarding live content and events. They aim to seamlessly extend real-life experiences into the digital realm to keep fans engaged.
The future of sports engagement in the metaverse holds transformative potential for fans and organizations. In this digital realm, fans can expect immersive experiences from virtual stadiums with better viewing experiences and interactive games. AR, VR, and AI technologies can provide real-time game and player insights and predictions, keeping fans engaged. Sports clubs and organizations are also exploring new avenues to build fan loyalty and generate revenue through digital merchandise and NFTs. As the world of sports and the 3D internet collide, the industry must test the space to uncover the scope and challenges to forge the best path forward.
Are you looking to leverage the metaverse and virtual experiences for sports? We’ll help build, scale, and monetize immersive and highly engaging sport experiences in the metaverse to connect with your audience. Get in touch with us!
Oct 20, 2023
LandVault is the largest metaverse builder with over 100 million square feet of virtual real estate, more than 120 full-time creators, and nearly 300 completed projects. We’ve been helping brands build and grow in gaming environments since 2017 and the metaverse since 2021.
LandVault’s platform-agnostic proprietary technology and creative powerhouse builds and delivers tailored, data-driven, and optimized business solutions and insights. We help clients launch, optimize, and monetize metaverse experiences.
LandVault’s mission is to accelerate the metaverse economy through technology with a vision of a fairer wealth distribution across the web.