The benefits and potentials of NFTs as a new source of income for sports were highlighted by the United States' National Basketball Association. An NFT marketplace for NBA highlights, known as the NBA Top Shot, was launched last year by the Dapper Labs, and it allows participants to trade "moments" which each other. The platform gained popularity in 2021, with one highlight of NBA star LeBron James, in the 2020 NBA finals selling for over $230,000 in August, and a total of $750 million spent so far on the platform following its launch last year. Trading fees realized from transactions are shared between the Dapper Labs and the NBA.
News of these developments was not lost on the Asian sports sector. Recently, popular gaming company DeNa, which owns Yokohama DeNa BayStars, a Japanese baseball team, began selling their video highlights as NFTs. The procedures for sale usually commence by lotteries being held for a limited number of selected videos, winners of the lotteries can purchase the videos for around 120 yen and 1,980 yen each. In addition, some of the proceeds are distributed among the players, and buyers can also trade their collection on a marketplace at a later date. According to DeNa, the platform utilizes blockchain developed by Line's messaging app operator due to the huge number of existing Line users and their recognized interest in the NFT space.
South Korea's football association known as the K League and Japan's J league have also granted merchandising rights to Sorare, a French start-up that SoftBank Group's Vision Fund funds. The start-up runs a fantasy soccer game that allows participants to develop digital teams using NFTs of existing players, which they can also trade among themselves. In September, over $150 million worth of trading was reported to have been carried out on the platform since January.
Popular athletes within the region have also begun to enter individual deals. For example, presidential candidate and boxing icon, Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines, sold a series of NFTs in August. Japanese boxing star Naoya Inoue also shared plans to auction his first NFT related to a recent boxing match.