Though there’s much less public excitement around the blockchain collectibles category today compared to last year, the NFL has stuck with partner Dapper Labs and its All Day product. Ahead of this football season, both sides updated their financial relationship, the offering and their expectations for a new crypto era.
The league and the NFLPA each took equity stakes in Dapper when initially getting into business together in 2021. All Day launched last year, offering NFTs featuring recent and historic NFL content. The platform averaged more than $12 million in secondary sales in August, September and October 2022, according to CryptoSlam! data. Marketplace sales totals haven’t topped $4 million in a month since, as blockchain assets have struggled to return to their ‘21 heyday.
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Crypto’s collapse left All Day millions short of previous expectations, according to reports. At one point, the NFLPA marked $41.8 million in missing licensing and sponsorship revenue in a filing with the Department of Labor, with much of that figure likely tied to the group’s new partnerships for products like All Day and DraftKings’ NFT-based Reignmakers game.
In July, Dapper announced a third round of layoffs in less than a year, cutting 51 workers. “With this restructure, we have made the business more lean,” CEO Roham Gharegozlou said in a statement at the time, “which is going to let us do the right thing for our fans and grow our communities in the most healthy way possible.”
Behind the scenes, the players association’s joint venture OneTeam Partners and the league each worked with Dapper to update the terms of their partnership, according to sources close to the discussions, giving the partners comfort in moving forward with the product for a second season, and offering Dapper a multiyear runway.
While financial terms of Dapper’s football deals have not been revealed, it has become customary this year for rights holders to accept smaller guaranteed payouts in exchange for other benefits, such as increased equity stakes or a higher percentage of potential future revenues.
Offering increased potential upside for partners instead of higher guaranteed payments could relieve pressure on blockchain companies to wring revenue out of the current market, allowing them to take a longer term approach to audience development.
And those deals could change again. Insiders said it’s not uncommon for agreements in emerging categories to evolve regularly as young partners try to build new business models.
Digital collectible platforms could have more leverage than others in the licensing world as well, given leagues’ switching costs. Extensive workflows have been created to support the collectibles’ creation, and getting fans to move to a new product is more complicated than getting them to buy a shirt made by a different producer. Much of the product’s utility would also be lost if the host platform is no longer an official league partner.
Additionally, Dapper has the advantage of being a relatively well-known (and well-capitalized) player in its category, with the breakout success of NBA Top Shot on its resume. If rightsholders were to attempt to take their deals elsewhere, they also could face trouble finding an eager alternative. In fact, other NFT startups are already disappearing in the lingering crypto winter, including Recur, which previously launched a college sports-focused product and had raised $50 million.
That said, the NFL has continued developing additional NFT partnerships, such as the NFL Rivals game from Mythical Games, which recently boasted 2 million total players.
The sports NFT category showed signs of life in August, with major products garnering more than $36 million in volume combined, according to The First Mint. On Wednesday, DraftKings—whose data includes primary sales—took the top position among all NFT collections in activity, while NFL All Day cracked the top 10 Friday after selling out of weekly pack drops for three straight weeks.
With an updated product line, All Day’s September haul has already topped its monthly secondary sales numbers for every month since February. This season, several of the new additions to All Day showcase features unique to digital collectibles.
For instance, Dapper Labs introduced “Dynamic Moments,” a set of collectibles that will come to include highlights accumulated over the course of the season, depending on how well the player or team performs. That way, even if a star like Patrick Mahomes has a run of All Day-worthy plays this season, they can be reflected on the platform without the company needing to decrease the rarity of his individual top tier “moments.”
“Dynamic Moments is sort of the culmination of a lot of conversation and a lot of strategic planning that we undertook during the offseason with the NFL and NFLPA,” Dapper Labs VP of sports business development Adam Barrick said in an interview. “It’s really one of the focal points of the product for this year.”
Those collectibles will also hold particular value in All Day’s game mode, Playbook, which tasks users with grabbing “moments” tied to the highest performing players each week.
On the other end of the spectrum, All Day announced that it would be minting common tier collectibles without visible serial numbers, offering a more accessible entry point to the product. Dapper Labs is hoping to draw in avid NFL fans beyond those specifically interested in blockchain assets. Along those lines, it is also introducing more products focused on teams, rather than individuals. This year, Dapper plans to work more closely with NFL clubs, marketing its product via team digital channels in addition to its own and the league’s.
The goal? Making its platform as dynamic as its newest products, and proving that blockchain offerings are here to stay.
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