The PGA Tour has announced a multi-year NFT deal with Autograph, becoming the first professional sports league to partner with the digital collectibles company co-founded by Tom Brady. Autograph will launch the PGA Tour NFT Marketplace in early 2023, which will feature collectible video highlights of memorable footage from PGA Tour players.
Autograph video NFTs integrate data from the PGA Tour’s ShotLink system, such as: B. Ball speed of a particular shot, club head speed, curvature, elevation and other shot tracking graphics and 3D hole renderings that typically appear in broadcasts. For moments like a putt that wins a tournament, this NFT could also include footage of the golfer’s broadcast post-stroke interview. The collectable Highlight NFTs include both archival footage and actual moments from the FedEx Cup season.
Players who choose the PGA Tour’s new contract with Autograph will receive guaranteed compensation for their participation, as well as additional payments for each of their individual NFTs sold. The PGA Tour got “just about everyone” to sign up for their pro-rated program with Autograph, according to Chris Wandell, VP of Media Business Development for the Tour.
“This is sort of a new set of media rights, which are rights tied to individual athletes and consumer ownership of those moments,” Wandell says. “If a player really wants to lean in and promote their own NFTs on their own Instagram and social media, that person is likely to generate more sales than the guy who doesn’t really want to lean in. We want to make sure that players who generate the most revenue are rewarded accordingly.”
PGA Tour events will also feature on-site branding from Autograph, who already has NFT contracts with athletes such as Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, Naomi Osaka and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The company raised $170 million in January.
“We learned in our first year in business that people in the NFT world are forming such strong connections both to NFT and to each other digitally that they crave IRL and access to events and tournaments,” explains CEO and co-autograph by autograph. Founder Dillon Rosenblatt to SportTechie. “So a big part of our strategy is going to be how do we actually get involved in the 40+ tournaments that happen each year?”
Rosenblatt cited 25-35 year olds as the main consumers of Autograph’s NFT products. The PGA Tour will be the newest sports league to offer its own NFT platform. Dapper Labs has built league marketplaces such as NBA Top Shot, NFL All Day and UFC Strike, the NHL has partnered with Sweet, while MLB partners with Candy Digital and Sorare. The PGA Tour is also planning to partner with fantasy sports NFT platform Sorare, Golf.com originally reported in April.
“I’d be surprised if we didn’t find a clever way to integrate our signatures,” Rosenblatt said of Autograph’s PGA Tour plans. “The process is that we send an iPad to the partner’s house and either jump in person or live with their team on Zoom. We developed an app where they sign each NFT with the pen, click next and sign again. It can actually take an hour or two hours. I think it’s important for people to know that this isn’t a signature that we keep stamping on.”