TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: A new football league controlled by fans is the latest endeavor to make use of blockchain technology.
The Fan Controlled Football League begins play next year and will allow fans to be apart of everything from play-calling to hiring general managers.
The FCFL will feature eight indoor football teams playing one hour-long games in a production studio on a 50-yard field. Games will air on Twitch, the Amazon-owned streaming platform whose video overlay technology will allow fans to call plays in real-time. The league is also using helmet cameras, embedded chips in balls, drones, and other tech.
The league announced this week that it has partnered with New Alchemy, a Seattle-based blockchain consulting group, to implement a first-of-its-kind blockchain token system. Fans will be able to earn Fan Access Network (FAN) tokens built on the Ethereum blockchain; the more tokens collected, the more power they’ll have to make decisions.
Sohrob Farudi, co-founder of FCFL, told GeekWire that his team wanted to use blockchain for three reasons:
- Voting transparency: “We’re letting fans dictate the careers of coaches and players, and the plays on the field,” he said. “We need to be able to provide true transparency in the voting process so there are no questions about the results.”
- Tokenization: “We’re building a ‘real-life video game’ so it’s a natural fit to have tokens in the game,” he said. “We’re tokenizing voting power in the league so the more FAN tokens a fan owns/earns, the more voting power the fan will have.”
- Digital collectibles: “We’re going to be tokenizing the players in the league and creating non-fungible digital ‘collectible tokens’ for each player, similar to trading cards,” he said. “We’re working with New Alchemy on some interesting ways to incorporate the collectible player tokens into fantasy sports games for the league.”
New Alchemy is also an investor in the league, making a “low seven-figure” investment, Farudi said.
Farudi and his colleagues tested an initial version of FCFL last year after buying the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles, an Indoor Football League team, and letting fans control plays with an app. FCFL is the latest evolution, expanding the format to an entire league with partners like Twitch and IMG Original Content.
Highlights from the week in sports tech
- Amazon bought up more live sports rights, this time inking a deal with the USTA to stream the U.S. Open in Ireland and the U.K. on Prime Video.
- The NFL is investigating what it alleges as widespread fraud related to its $1 billion concussion settlement, reports The Wall Street Journal.
- Amazon-owned Twitch will stream games from the NBA’s new 2K esports league.
- ESPN reports that MLB and the NBA are in talks to divest their stakes in DraftKings and FanDuel.
- Seattle startup Vicis finished No. 1 on the NFL’s latest annual rankings for safe football helmets.
- Seattle esports betting startup Unikrn made another acquisition, swooping up Berlin-based ChallengeMe.GG to create the first “crypto gaming platform.”
- Another Seattle startup, IdealSeat, signed a deal with the Seattle Storm to integrate its ticketing intelligence platform.
- University of Pittsburgh awarded two projects for its first Performance Innovation Tournament: tech that improves swimming technique, and a bio-screening platform that measures a user’s nervous system.
- Did you sign up for ESPN+? In case you missed it, here’s a primer on ESPN’s new $5 per month streaming service.
- Mobile Sports Report is out with a new WiFi stadium performance report.
- Blockchain-based startups are getting into fantasy sports.
Thanks for tuning in, everyone! — Taylor Soper