NFL’s NFT Super Bowl Commemorative Ticket Will Include Fans Section, Row and Seat Number

3 min read

 When the National Football League sends a marketing email, the average open rate is roughly 20%. However, in November, the league announced that through a partnership with Ticketmaster, it would distribute free commemorative NFTs as a keepsake for fans, in place of traditional ticket stubs for those who attend designated regular season games or any playoff game.

The NFT related emails that the NFL sent had an open rate of about 50 to 60% during the regular season and now almost 75% for postseason playoff games—a level of engagement that has been “off the charts,” says Bobby Gallo, NFL SVP for club business development.

In total, the NFL distributed 250,000 NFTs for regular season games and approximately 100,000 through the first two playoff rounds. Whereas the NFTs were free for game attendees, a select number were also made available for sale to the general public. So far, all of the NFL NFTs have been of team uniform design, but the Super Bowl versions will include the ticket holder’s section, row and seat numbers.

Concerning the motivation to experiment with NFTs, Gallo says it was, “above all else, curiosity and just a desire to learn in an emerging space.” All fans who bought their tickets through the sanctioned NFL ticketing networks—Ticketmaster, StubHub and SeatGeek—along with all season ticket holders were eligible to receive one.

“Naturally for us, with the emergence of mobile ticketing—in our league, 97-98% of our tickets are now mobile—we felt that NFT’s could be a really fun way to provide fans with that commemorative ticket,” he adds. “If we were going to do something, we wanted it to be anchored in providing our fans with added value through a new and engaging way, and NFT’s are something we thought made a ton of sense.”

Ticket stubs are a thing of the past, as evidenced by Sherri Adams, pictured in 2008, wearing 35 years worth of Broncos season tickets.
Ticket stubs are a thing of the past, as evidenced by Sherri Adams, pictured in 2008, wearing 35 years worth of Broncos season tickets.

In addition to the high email open and click-through rates they received, the NFL has also been following how the NFTs have fared on the secondary market. Because each NFT is inherently tied to the blockchain, it’s easy to track the collectible’s path over however many stops it makes. NFL club business development director Sam Rubinroit reports that some of the free NFTs given to fans have sold for a couple hundred dollars. Others that were released for purchase have been sold for more than $500.

“We’re seeing not only fans posting these on social and transferring them to family and friends, but also an interesting learning for us that there’s a clear secondary market for the NFTs, as well,” Rubinroit says.

In contrast to the traditional secondary market ticket, the NFL does collect a small percentage of revenue from each NFT resale, but Gallo is quick to say that “this is not for us a financial play,” noting how many have been given away freely and emphasizing the interest in experimentation.

Teams Could Use NFTs To Incentivize Fans

But such findings could be a precursor to future exploration and opportunities. “We think there could be opportunities to reward fans for renewing their season tickets with NFTs or arriving to the game early, attending all home games—things like that,” Gallo says. “And even things like incentivizing fans to engage more with team sponsors, which, if you think about it, that can really start to unlock value for everybody involved: the league, the clubs, the fans.”

In November, to help increase engagement with their fans, the New England Patriots partnered with Socios.com, an all-in-one fan engagement and rewards platform.

As other companies have indicated, a NFT can serve more broadly as a membership, unlocking access to gated experiences. Maybe, the NFT is the actual game ticket. Back in September, the NFL, NFLPA and Dapper Labs announced the creation of a digital video NFT marketplace—a NFL football version of NBA Top Shot—and someday those collectibles could serve a dual function as the ticket. All of these ideas are blue sky thinking for the NFL right now, but Gallo acknowledges that they are all under consideration.

“I don’t think we’re close to being there tomorrow,” he says. “That’s a longer runway, but absolutely. Things like that are certainly at the forefront of our thinking and our willingness to explore.”

And, of course, the biggest question to consider is whether the NFL might entertain the promise of a blockchain-based ticketing system.

On that possibility, Gallo demurs, saying, “We’re always exploring innovation and technology and, candidly, we do a lot of that with our ticketing partner Ticketmaster, who is always willing to do that right alongside us.”

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