NFL NFTs Will Be ‘Very Different’ Than NBA Top Shot, Says Dapper Labs

By Andrew Hayward

Following yesterday’s report about a planned NFT marketplace for the National Football League, NBA Top Shot creator Dapper Labs today confirmed the news, announcing a partnership with both the league itself and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).

The as-yet-unnamed NFL marketplace for NFT collectibles is expected to launch sometime during the current season, which ends in February 2022 with Super Bowl LVI. As with NBA Top Shot, the NFL marketplace will run on Dapper’s own Flow blockchain and focus on collectible NFT “moments” based on video highlights captured from real NFL games.

An NFT is effectively a deed of ownership for a provably scarce digital item, and can represent still and animated images, video files, and plenty more. An NBA Top Shot moment wraps a video highlight with animated flourishes and an edition number, making it akin to a digital trading card. Based on Dapper’s announcement, the NFL marketplace will do much the same.

“The NFL is certainly a holy grail in North America, and we’re super, super lucky to partner with them, as well as the NFL Players’ Association through OneTeam Partners,” Dapper Labs Head of Partnerships Caty Tedman told Decrypt. “It came together really quick, but I think everyone has a lot of conviction that it has the potential to be huge.”

Back in March, Tedman commented on the prospect of Dapper launching other sports marketplaces. At the time, she told Decrypt that Dapper couldn’t “just slap NFL players on NBA Top Shot and make it work,” for example, suggesting that more nuance is required to create an NFT experience that can resonate with a sports league’s fan base.

Dapper’s NFL marketplace plans sound similar in approach to NBA Top Shot, with video-driven highlights sold as collectible NFT moments. However, when asked about it this week, Tedman told Decrypt that the NFL marketplace will take a different approach in terms of content focus, and be handled in a “very different way than we program Top Shot.”

Here Comes the NFL Version of NBA Top Shot NFTs

“The game is just so different. Notably, the NFL is played on a much more week-to-week basis,” said Tedman, who worked for the NFL from 2014 to 2016. “I think there’s a lot of fun that we can have with highlighting what happened that week, but then cross-reference how historical footage and previous seasons have related to that.”

Tedman also pointed to the much larger number of players on the field during NFL games as another variable, and suggested that Dapper won’t simply focus on the big offensive plays—like “Hail Mary” tosses and ridiculous end zone catches. Dapper also aims to show off strategic nuances of the game, she said, like what a quarterback sees when the offensive line provides a “phenomenal pocket” to throw from.

Will NFL NFTs click?

The NFL marks the fourth sports NFT initiative for Dapper Labs. In addition to NBA Top Shot (which now includes WNBA too), the firm announced a partnership with UFC in early 2020 that has yet to bear fruit.

Last week, the startup unveiled an NFT marketplace for the Spanish LaLiga soccer league while announcing a new $250 million funding round that values Dapper at $7.6 billion.

NBA Top Shot helped introduce NFTs to mainstream audiences and sports fans alike earlier this year, when the marketplace saw hundreds of thousands of users flood in to buy, collect, and sell the digital collectibles. One Top Shot moment of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James sold for $387,600 in April, for example.

NBA Top Shot Maker Dapper Labs Reveals LaLiga NFTs as It Hits $7.6 Billion Valuation

All told, NBA Top Shot has amassed more than $700 million worth of trading volume to date, according to data from CryptoSlam. However, the bulk of that volume came in February and March, with sales numbers trailing off in the months since. With less than $11 million in trading volume in September so far, it’s poised to be Top Shot’s weakest month yet in 2021.

Whether the NFL audience takes to Dapper’s new NFT platform as ravenously as NBA fans did with Top Shot—which was overwhelmed with demand earlier this year—remains to be seen. The NBA is viewed as the most social media-savvy professional sports league, which may have bolstered its ability to sell digital collectibles to fans. Can the NFL repeat the feat?

Asked about it, Tedman suggested that even if NFL fans don’t broadly prove to be as digitally inclined as NBA aficionados, there’s still potential for Dapper to introduce those fans to NFTs as a bridge into blockchain and the wider crypto world.

“I think about it [like]: How can we engage an NFL fan where they are? And how do we talk to them in a way that they can fall in love with this technology through this product?” she said. “NBA Top Shot was a perfect way for a basketball fan to enter this space, and I really hope that what we do with the NFL is the entry point for people. Once you’re part of the NFT space, there’s so many exciting things to explore.”