How The ‘Crypto Winter’ Could Impact The Future Of Crypto-Based Entertainment Sports Sponsorships

Between 2020 and 2021, we sat front-row-center to the massive deals signed between Cryptocurrency giants and diverse sports teams from the NBA to the UFC. In November 2021, blockchain giant, Crypto.com signed a 20-year deal worth $700 million to have the naming rights of the Los Angeles Staples Center. The company also has a long-term deal in place with the UFC and Formula 1 to have their brand appear in sporting locations and on sporting gear.

Other companies like FTX and Coinbase
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have also made significant inroads into the entertainment, sporting and athletic worlds, with FTX agreeing to a 19-year deal worth $135 million for the naming rights to the Miami Heat’s arena and Coinbase inking a multiyear deal to become the exclusive cryptocurrency exchange for the WNBA, NBA, and the NBA G League.

Crypto companies had made deals worth billions of dollars in the last three years, all before the crypto crash in January of 2022. The question on the minds of many crypto analysts and sports enthusiasts is, are these sponsorship deals now at risk?

According to a spokesperson at Crypto.com, “Crypto.com remains fully committed to its sports sponsorships.” Still, how long can they remain committed in a persistent bear market and, more importantly, in a highly volatile industry?

According to Kaif Bhatty, a stock and crypto trading trainer and founder of The Trading Plan, “Cryptocurrencies are the logical next step in the evolution of finances and all these occurrences are necessary to define what its final state would be, but Cryptos are not going anywhere, and neither are these sponsorships.”

Will The Effects Of a Shrinking Crypto Market Cause Permanent Damage?

According to Pew Research, about 43% of American men and 19% of American Women aged 18-29 have either traded or used cryptocurrency at some point. The number of active crypto users reduces significantly among 50+ Americans, but that still leaves a healthy number of Americans involved in the world of cryptocurrency in some form. These people and the 70% of Americans who enjoy watching professional sports, entertainment, and athletic activities are the targets of these crypto-based sponsorship deals.

In the recent bear market, however, the number of active users is shrinking for apparent reasons. According to Bloomberg, the number of active crypto users at the Bank of America
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has shrunk by 50%, as crypto prices have cratered with bitcoin tumbling over 60% this year. The overall consensus seems to be that sentiment among crypto fans has soured. The big question then becomes, how effective will big sports and entertainment sponsorships, and ads by big names be going forward if the realities on the ground are not encouraging more investment into the market?

Bhatty, who has an academic history in psychology and counseling, attempts to explain a possible path forward for the industry; “While a lot of people have lost massive investments in crypto within this time, the potential to make massive profits have never really waned.” Bhatty insists, “I recently hosted a trading challenge on my platform, The Trading Plan. We took a trading account from $10k to $400k in 5 months, all within the bear market. The crypto market is largely ruled by sentiment and sentiment is never all positive, it vacillates between positive and negative, and right now, the industry is poised and waiting for the stimulus to restart a bullish trend. The big companies know this, they know where the money is and that is why these sponsorship deals are long term, that is why these deals are not at risk of collapse.”

Crypto.com’s official statement seems to agree with Bhatty, as a spokesman recently stated; “We are well-financed, and these are multiyear contracts, which will continue to play a crucial role in our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to cryptocurrency.”

The Crypto Winter; A Pause Or An End To Sponsorship Deals?

The New York Post recently reported that many Crypto companies are pulling out of sponsorship deals as the market bites harder. The post reported that crypto exchange FTX has pulled out of talks to provide jersey patches to the MLB’s LA Angels after the company had initially splurged $135 million to rename the Miami Heat in March 2021. The exchange has also reportedly pulled out of another patch deal with the NBA’s Washington Wizards.

After a very active year in which Crypto companies spent cash on Superbowl Ads and sponsorship deals, the industry seems to have entered what the Coinbase CEO, Brain Amstrong, has aptly described as “The Crypto Winter.” However, various companies have responded to this not by risking the sponsorship deals but instead by dialing back other costs.

Coinbase recently laid off 1,100 employees, about 18% of its workforce, as its shares went down more than 75%. Crypto.com has also reportedly laid off 260 of its staff ( 5%) to curtail spending. Even though crypto companies are doing their bit to survive, there is no hint that any of them are considering abandoning ship on any of these mega-deals.

“Is cryptocurrency unsafe? Yes, it is, just like everything else in life is.” Bhatty opines, “ My first ever investment into the market was in 2017. As a broke counselor cum Amazon
AMZN
Truck driver, I invested my hard-earned $700 into an Alt coin on the recommendation of a steemit influencer and saw that investment rise to $30k in just days. Being an inexperienced trader at the time, I held on to it and watched it fall right back down to $1k.”

He continued, “The first key to thriving in the industry is emotional control and foresight. In my opinion, some of these major crypto companies went in too hard and too much into the sponsorship deals. The deals were exorbitant and this may be why they are tightening up currently. There is a generation of people who were born into the crypto era, who have become active in it, and who see it as their future. I have personally trained hundreds of them and watched them get pulled out of poverty by the industry. Crypto may be evolving, but it is not going anywhere. If this is a crypto winter, then certainly summer is nearby.”

Binance CEO Changpend Zhao shared Bhatty’s sentiment as he recently boasted that Binance had made shrewd moves in the crypto sponsorship market. Binance paid a comparatively relatively moderate fee of $32 million to become the official shirt sponsor of the Italian Football team Napoli in October 2021. Perhaps the frugality of Binance is responsible for why the company is still expanding despite the market crunch.

Binance is not the only company still making moves in the sponsorship market. A potential deal is still on the table at Liverpool FC from a major crypto exchange, although the six-time-champions league winners seem to be dragging their feet due to the state of the market. On the other hand, their city rivals, Everton FC, have just penned a “club record” deal with the crypto casino Stake.com as they become Everton’s main shirt sponsor.

It is not all gloom and doom in the industry; it does seem that sports and entertainment sponsorships are still happening but on a smaller scale. Perhaps, Bhatty is correct, and these mega deals were ill-advised. However, the fact that the future of technology and innovation, like the metaverse, demands the use of cryptocurrency is enough to ensure that the virtual currency withstands a complete crash. Whether it would again reach the heights of 2021 remains to be seen, but the overall sentiment, for now, seems to be, ‘this too shall pass.’

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