Look out cricket fans — the next iteration of the internet is coming to an app near you. Yesterday, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced it is partnering with the NEAR Foundation to build a Web3 app ahead of the Men’s Cricket World Cup, which starts on October 5th. The app will feature contests in which users can compete against each other by testing their knowledge of the sport.
Finn Bradshaw, Head of Digital at the ICC, said in a statement that the organization is excited to “embark on this partnership with the NEAR Foundation” and use the Foundation’s technology to create better and deeper fan engagement all around the world. He added that the goal is to use Web3 tech to deliver lasting, valuable experiences to fans.
The app will debut with a series of challenges, which will require users to make strategic decisions and create winning combinations across cricket’s three key areas: batting, bowling, and fielding. As IRL matches unfold, the results will affect the fans’ scores, which will impact their placement on a leaderboard. Weekly winners will receive prizes, including match tickets, entry to exclusive events, and merchandise.
Hear that? That’s the sound of crickets 🦗
Oh never mind, we got mixed up.
That’s the sound of a new era of fan engagement in cricket as the NEAR Foundation partners with the International Cricket Council (@ICC) to usher in the next level of fan engagement 🏏 pic.twitter.com/xIh6nQ1iqE
— NEAR Protocol (@NEARProtocol) September 27, 2023
When asked about why ICC went with the NEAR Foundation, a representative cited the NEAR blockchain’s interoperability with other ecosystems. Although this is something ICC won’t explore for this year’s World Cup, it might for future activations. The partnership between ICC and the NEAR Foundation is set to last until 2025.
After the World Cup, the goal for both organizations is to develop long-term Web3 use cases that will further deepen fan engagement and increase fan loyalty. Ultimately, they want to create a “fan passport” that will serve as a touchstone for fan memories and a way for fans to record their interactions with the sport.
Chris Donovan of the NEAR Foundation said that the organization is excited to be working with ICC and that it’s one of the biggest partnerships the NEAR Foundation has had. In addition, he noted that this move signals that NEAR is the go-to blockchain at the intersection of sports and Web3.
Sports Industry Gets Involved in Web3
Few industries have entered Web3 with as much enthusiasm as sports. From Web3 games that feature major sports leagues to individual athletes launching NFT collections, stakeholders in the sports industry have seen the potential of Web3 and delivered. Here are three stories from the past five months involving this intersection.
First, two months ago, two esports gamers expressed an interest in games built on the blockchain. Those gamers were Erik Engel, a professional Dota 2 player, and Max Ng, a Rocket League professional gamer. Together, they shared an optimism for games that would reward players for money and time spent on a game, a common feature in Web3 titles.
Next, four months ago, Nike and EA SPORTS hinted at NFT-enabled games. The partnership between the two companies will connect Nike’s new, virtual Web3 community with EA’s global fanbase. Together, they will create virtual experiences and digital customizations for Web3 gamers.
Lastly, five months ago, Sports Illustrated debuted its NFT-enabled ticketing platform called “Box Office.” Using Box Office, event organizers can release tickets as non-fungible tokens and can program the NFTs to include specific perks like access to in-person experiences. While the platform is currently built for smaller organizers, it could accommodate larger clients in the future.
As these stories show, the sports industry sees the potential of Web3 and has taken steps to include the technology in its outreach towards fans and other parties. To learn more about how NFTs are revolutionizing sports, check out our guide.