DraftKings is entering the NFT game, announcing a marketplace aimed at crafting sports and entertainment-themed digital collectibles for its enthusiastic audience. The platform is “launching later this summer,” and shows another potentially lucrative expansion for the fantasy sports betting company.
DraftKings is entering a market that is both congested and sparse – with plenty of NFT market options for today’s niche group of collectors, though when considering the billions flowing through the space in the first several months of the year The offerings are still light. This week, investors gave NFT marketplace OpenC a valuation of $1.5 billion. Dapper Labs, which makes NBA Top Shot, recently reported a valuation of $7.5 billion.
Dapper’s current influence in the space would leave the DraftKings to pursue opportunities outside of special league partnerships. NBA Top Shot allows players to purchase “moments” from NBA history, clips and player footage of actual games that it has access to through league and players’ association partnerships. In addition to the NBA, Dapper has already partnered with other leagues.
DraftKings’ space will come from an exclusive partnership with Autograph, a newly launched NFT startup co-founded by quarterback Tom Brady. The company has signed exclusive NFT deals with some of the top athletes including Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Derek Jeter, Naomi Osaka and Tony Hawk, who are looking forward to building their platform as the centerpiece of a sports personality collection.
In addition to the partnership, DraftKings is hoping to gain a foothold in the space by further simplifying the user onboarding process, allowing users to purchase NFTs without loading a wallet with the cryptocurrency, rather than purchasing with USD. When the platform launches, users will be able to buy NFTs from DraftKings and resell or trade them through the platform.
For DraftKings, which has raised some $720 million in funding since launching in 2012, NFT expansion could provide an opportunity to funnel its existing audience into new verticals. Despite a lot of hype and investor interest, some of the current tech startups have made remarkable strides in the NFT world. DraftKings co-founder Matt Kalish told ClearTips that the startup’s dedicated community is its biggest asset to win in the growing space.
“Our community of DraftKings has millions of people who show up on out-platforms every day and every week,” Kalish says. “We think our biggest advantage is the strength and size of our community… [We] Will bring a lot of eyeballs to the table. “