This week the Houston Texans announced a partnership with BitWallet, signaling a broader shift, not just for the NFL, but for major American sports leagues toward integrating crypto into the product and fan experience.
BitWallet, which as you can guess, is a crypto wallet and payment company, has now officially become the digital wallet for the Texans. Additionally, fans can now purchase suite tickets using digital currency, making the Texans the first team in the NFL to do so.
EWR Digital, a digital-marketing company based in Houston, purchased the first suite ticket upon the day of the partnership announcement. The price range for these tickets span anywhere between $15,000 and $30,000. Keep in mind that regular tickets out in the stands are not purchasable with crypto just yet, but that could change in the future.
Holding court — Stadium suites, especially within the confines of an NFL arena, are the modern day equivalent to the imperial box seats that emperors would relax in to watch gladiator matches. Situated well above the action, and enclosed with floor-to-ceiling windows, these locations are filled with complimentary (only after forking over the five-figure cost of a ticket) alcohol and hors d'oeuvres.
Accordingly, individual fans are not the target audience for this kind of luxury seating; companies will usually rent out a suite and treat the space as an exclusive networking event. The NFL’s decision to make these spaces available with crypto suggests a belief in the viability of the digital currencies being part of a given firm’s investment strategy.
In other words, the crypto winter does not seem to trouble the NFL’s outlook on the industry moving forward. With the prospect of lucrative, long-term partnerships, a league that has traditionally shied away from embracing new technologies is starting to buck that trend.
Sports and technology are having a moment not seen since the dot-com era, where franchises promoted websites to draw fans into engaging with their favorite teams online.
The difference here is that the influx of crypto companies into the sports ecosystem is not just a ploy to sell tickets on the internet, but rather an attempt to encourage fans to put some of their money into crypto wallets and exchanges. And the consequences of that... well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.