Ping pong is the latest sport getting the crypto treatment.
World Table Tennis (WTT), the events arm of the sport's governing body, said Wednesday it is pursuing Web3 initiatives in partnership with non-fungible token startup NFT Tech – in an effort to expand the game.
The multiyear tie-up will see WTT issue “digital collectibles, metaverse experiences, play-to-earn and move-to-earn gaming,” according to a release. WTT told it runs more than 50 events a year.
Table tennis is hardly alone in the metaverse sports movement: All four major sports leagues in the U.S. are experimenting with the tech as a way to engage new audiences.
While it’s uncertain exactly what role crypto will have in the future of these sports, it’s becoming clear that most sporting organizations are keeping a close eye on Web3 as a growth and marketing tool, especially for its younger, tech-savvy demographics.
“In many cases, we will be appealing to first-time wallet holders,” NFT Tech CEO Adam De Cata said in an email. “Using NFT technology, we will actively explore the 'IRL' utility and access possibilities such as tickets to tournaments, training facilities and online broadcasts to VIP events.”
De Cata is no stranger to tennis-themed NFT crossovers. He previously ran partnerships for the popular metaverse game Decentraland, which in January hosted the Australian Open’s NFT debut – a fan favorite. NFT Tech worked on that project as well
Table tennis is said to be the third-fastest-growing sport in middle-age demographics and eighth-most popular in the world, with its Olympic viewership at all-time highs.
The sport is also becoming increasingly financialized, with tennis table-related sports betting an unlikely hit across U.S. betting markets.