Sports partnerships are more than just a deal for major crypto companies

In 2021, it felt like every week a crypto company joined forces with a sports team or athlete. Fast-forward to today’s stagnating crypto market: Those partnerships still exist, but they’re less talked about.

I wondered whether these alliances were paying off in a meaningful way, so I asked a few people from major crypto companies and blockchains like FTX, Ava Labs and Algorand to talk about it.

“Sports audiences tend to overlap with crypto,” Avi Dabir, vice president of business development at FTX, said to TechCrunch. “You can hit a mass market by partnering with trusted teams, brands and athletes and your sports viewer tends to be in finance and crypto and so on.”

“A lot of people didn’t know about crypto and the brands in crypto. Sports helped amplify and grow that.” Avi Dabir, vice president of business development at FTX

FTX was one of the first crypto companies to really dive into sports partnerships. It began talking about collaborations with sports entities in January 2021 because it wanted to enhance the value and awareness of its brand, Dabir said.

Last year, FTX signed a 19-year, $135 million agreement with the Miami Heat to rename its home court to FTX Arena. The company is also the official crypto exchange sponsor of Major League Baseball and has partnered with individual athletes like Tom Brady and Steph Curry.

“I really believe [the partnerships] paid off,” Dabir said. “The things we look at — some are measurable and some are not.” The obvious measurement is how many people signed up or downloaded the FTX app, but there are other aspects that are harder to quantify, he added.

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