From sponsored players to free bitcoin: FTX and MLB strike up a deal

Sam Bankman-Fried’s ten-year involvement with MLB Advanced Media, as well as his early contribution via angel investing in bitcoin startups, led him to launch a new business: FanChain. The platform is designed for engaging sports fans and rewarding them with crypto.

On one hand, the FanChain token will be used within specific apps which support loyalty programs and e-commerce, while it can also be used by third-party developers who create their own protocols using the open-source tools provided by FanChain Labs (the company behind FanChain).

For example, FCFL – a blockchain-powered fan-controlled football league – plans on using the token to reward fair play and provide rewards for watching, betting, and playing within the league.

On the other hand, partnerships with teams will allow them to reward fans on-site or via various touchpoints: apps, digital media properties, physical locations, and events. FanChain will be partnering with the New York Yankees as part of their new partnership finalized this week with MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM).

The Yankees are one of eleven clubs that currently work with MLBAM to form a joint venture called BAM Tech, a spin-off that owns nearly all of the streaming technology patents held by Major League Baseball.

Under the terms of the agreement, made public in January 2017, each team received an initial $50 million investment from Disney – which operates ESPN – for a 3% stake in BAM Tech. Disney also has an option to increase its stake in BAM Tech for a further $150 million, which would give it majority control of the company.

The deal with FanChain and the Yankees will allow them to use decentralized applications (DApps) via their New York-themed blockchain platform – NYC, utilizing the FanChain token.

The DApp will reward fans based on their involvement with the application, encouraging engagement both before and during games: at home or live within stadiums.

Each fan can personalize their own offers from sponsors right away; rewards are transferred instantly using digital wallets.

As Bankman-Fried explained, “Imagine getting rewarded as a Yankee’s fan every time you approach [the stadium] and check-in, or when you purchase a Yankees’ jersey and other items with your tokens. The opportunities for rewards are endless.”

In addition to the opportunities on-site, fans will also have access to exclusive content via the FanChain platform; with users able to vote on which pieces of content should be produced – such as podcasts or special events surrounding parties or the pitch itself.

Since sports teams are so concerned about their online presence in relation to ticket sales and merchandise revenue, this new partnership presents an opportunity for them to leverage digital media by rewarding loyal customers who engage with their brand 24/7.

FanChain Labs is not alone in providing blockchain platforms aimed at building engagement among sports fans: there are many others including UltraLive. Crypto exchange FTX’s sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball has progressed to giving away free bitcoin.

FTX and MLB struck up a baseball deal in June which involves FTX branding appearing on all umpire uniforms starting at the All-Star Game in Denver on July 13. In addition, a cryptocurrency exchange will be the presenting sponsor for at least two games.

The first match – involving the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers – was played on July 25; with FTX sponsoring all mid-innings breaks during the contest.

In keeping with its name (FTX or Fans Unchained), the crypto exchange rewarded fans by giving away bitcoin to those watching from home.

The new platform plans on offering a free digital collectible called FanChain to MLB fans in August, in order to encourage them to sign up as well as adopt crypto use cases.

“We’re thrilled to bring this innovative program to baseball and engage tens of thousands of fans across North America,” said Jeffrey Kittleson, founder, and CEO of FTX. “Giving away Bitcoin as part of this sponsorship is really exciting for us because it brings cryptocurrency to a national audience in a very visible way.”

The New York Yankees’ interest goes beyond the bitcoin giveaway; they have also been working on their own crypto adaption — with baseball being one of several leagues looking to adopt blockchain technology.

As reported by CoinDesk, the Yankees are taking a leadership position in enabling this new approach; teaming up with FanChain Labs in order to reward fans based on their involvement with, or proximity to, the ballpark: Whether that be through social media activities, physical attendance at home games or during events related to road trips.

Fans will even be rewarded for wearing merchandise; whether it be on-site or at home. As the partnership expands, cryptocurrency rewards will also come from the team’s sponsors to encourage digital wallet adoption among its fans.

Speaking about the MLB sponsorship deal earlier this year, FanChain Labs’ President Oren Koules said that they are “ecstatic” over their decision: Not just because it was a great financial opportunity for the sports marketing company but also due to prediction markets and blockchain bringing together established businesses with cutting-edge technology.

The next game sponsored by FTX is between American League rivals – Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics – on August 1st; giving away another batch of free bitcoin to viewers tuning in via Facebook Live. The crypto exchange is estimated to give away $50,000 in bitcoin over the course of the baseball season.

Published by Jerry Howarth

It can't be said that Jerry Howarth has been here for the entire 35 years since the Jays took flight in 1977. In those days he was a student at the University of Western Ontario and although he did his homework on the road, doing play-by-play mostly for university games with Bobby Mattick as manager.