German football league Bundesliga’s non-fungible token (NFT) deals combined with sticker and trading card licensing will generate income of €170 million ($179m) in the 2023-2024 season. The revenue is almost four times the current season’s rights value.
The league has partnerships with three different projects. Topps, which has officially licensed Bundesliga’s physical trading cards since 2008, is extending the NFT rights it acquired for the 2020/21 season. Sorare extended its contract until 2025 for NFTs of Bundesliga players for fantasy football, initially signed in 2021. And OneFootball acquired licensing rights for digital trading card collections and video-based NFTs of Bundesliga highlights.
OneFootball is the only new collectibles partner, although it was already a media partner for Bundesliga.
Likely as a consequence of the pandemic, Bundesliga’s total revenues dropped by almost €400 million between the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The new source of income from the NFT and collectibles deal is important for the league’s teams, especially lower ranked teams who may have a greater dependence on ticket revenue.
In the 2020/21 season, Bayern Munich earned over €600 million in revenue, more than 17% of the whole league’s income. Since the collectibles partnerships are managed at the league level as opposed to through individual team deals, the popularity of top teams such as Bayern likely increased the value of the deals, which will benefit smaller and lower revenue teams.
“The clubs in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 are receiving an important piece of planning certainty in difficult economic times”, said Donata Hopfen, DFL CEO. “The investment from our partners underlines the enormous popularity that German professional football enjoys. I am delighted that the design of the right packages with classic products and innovative digital opportunities has been well received”.
Bundesliga is the fourth most popular league in the world, topped by Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga, and England’s Premier League. The Premier League’s NFT rights were reportedly worth up to $590 million over four years, and four NFT platforms, including Sorare were in the race for it. The league reported revenues of £4.5 billion ($5.6bn) in the 2019/20 season, more than $2 billion above the Bundesliga’s income. The €170 million coming in from collectibles rights for Bundesliga will be split among the three platforms, while it appears that possibly two providers will be awarded Premier League’s rights. The figures are not comparable as Bundesliga includes stickers and physical trading cards, and the Premier League figures are not yet settled.