NHL Launching NFT Marketplace for Hockey Collectibles
According to David Lehanski, the NHL's executive vice president of business development and innovation, the league's marketplace will fall between a full-fledged NFT trading platform and a site that offers limited-time NFT drops.
The NHL plans to give fans a taste of both by creating an NFT marketplace with exclusive drops. The NHL's Sweet marketplace is set to launch in October, just in time for the start of the 2022-2023 season.
But there's also a gaming element at work here: the NHL wants to gamify NFTs with "questing and collecting" features so fans would participate and be rewarded with perks similar to other NFTs, according to Lehanski.
Some NFTs will also be dynamic and change over time based on a player's performance. According to a statement, NFTs will also be "cinematic game highlights from past and present NHL seasons" or surprise packs of NFTs that may be viewed in "3D interactive trophy rooms."
"We're looking at everything," Lehanski said, adding that the NHL's priorities in selecting a blockchain are "low gas fees" and "environmental sustainability."
It's worth mentioning that the NHL is one of the most recent big professional sports organizations to enter the NFT market, following advances by the NBA with Top Shot NFTs, the NFL with a "play and own" game, and MLB with a forthcoming NFT game.
“There was definitely a lot of allure to potentially moving very quickly [...] but we thought that was a little shortsighted,” Lehanski said of the NHL’s approach to NFTs, adding that, in his view, taking the time to research metrics like fan behavior was worth the effort. “NFTs have long-term viability as relevant and meaningful products for fans, especially as it pertains to digital collectibles and gaming.”
However, Sweet CEO Tom Mizzone stated that the NHL's NFTs will not only cater to NHL fans who are new to cryptocurrency; experienced NFT collectors will also be able to participate in a way that seems natural to them.
“It will have absolute appeal to that degen culture,” he added, “but not to the point where it’s excluding broader customer bases who are just fans.”
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