Formula One Announce Blockchain Ticketing Experience

The blockchain ticketing tailwinds are growing stronger. Is this the unlock that the entertainment industry is looking for or is it lipstick on a pig?

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Introduction 🔌🔧

Licensing, gaming, sportswear and fashion, collectables, loyalty schemes, sponsorship and ticketing. The tailwinds are there for entertainment and blockchain-based technologies to mesh in a serious way this decade.

With ticketing especially, there is a huge current from an investment, startup and incumbent perspective all pushing forward in this domain in a variety of different ways.

The latest of whom are Formula One (F1) — in a three-way partnership between NFT marketplace Elemint, Web3 firm Bary and Platinium Group, the largest ticket operator for Formula One Grand Prix events. They are building on the Polygon blockchain.

🔌 PS. If you’re hiring for any interesting roles in sports, entertainment, gaming or media that touch Web3 - please email me back at this email address! I’m creating something cool I’d love you to be a part of :)

Formula One Announce Blockchain Ticketing Experience

The Sporting Crypto Newsletter is supported by The HBAR Foundation.

In April 2023, Ticketmaster announced they would be debuting token-gated ticketing and I covered it in Sporting Crypto here. (If you want to get caught up to speed on all things blockchain ticketing, I’d recommend reading that post!)

The tailwinds are set and it seems as though it’s when, not if, blockchain ticketing proves a useful and mainstream use case in entertainment. There is a lot of investment in startups, and some big-name partnerships in the sports and entertainment world, as well as incumbents taking this seriously (e.g. Ticketmaster).

The latest big name to explore blockchain ticketing in a real way is F1, who announced that, in a three-way partnership between NFT technology company and consultancy Elemint, Web3 firm Bary and Platinium Group, the largest ticket operator for Formula One Grand Prix events, would debut NFT tickets issued on Polygon at the Monaco F1 Grand Prix May 25-28th 2023.

Today I’m going to discuss:

🏎️1) F1 and Crypto 💬2) Breaking down this partnership🎟️3) Ticketing — the unlock sports is looking for?

Is this the unlock that the entertainment industry is looking for or is it lipstick on a pig?

🏎️ 1) F1 and Crypto

Formula 1 has become the go-to place for Crypto companies to spend their marketing dollars.

That was especially true in 2022.

In February 2022, was announced as the official title partner of the F1 Miami Grand Prix, and throughout that year — almost every racing team had a Crypto sponsor.


Since the downturn in Crypto markets— Crypto sponsors in F1 dwindled. Many point to FTX’s implosion in late 2022 as a big reason for this.

Mercedes, who were sponsored by the once-upon-a-time Crypto exchange giant that famously went bust, removed FTX as a sponsor in November 2022 shortly after the exchange went bankrupt. In late March 2023, however, Williams landed a sponsorship deal with Crypto exchange Kraken — despite the U.S. regulatory crackdown we’ve seen since the implosion of FTX.

And if we fast forward to today, the F1 ticketing experience is being changed by a combination of Platinum Group, Elemint, Bary and Polygon.

💬 2) Breaking down this partnership

The new NFT ticketing system made its debut at the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix this past weekend, from the 26-28th of May 2023.

Each personalized ticket will showcase various stages of the circuit. In the future, the tickets can be used as a digital key to unlock additional benefits and provide loyalty benefits.

This launch has four partners involved. From bottom to top:1) Polygon: The Blockchain itself that these NFTs are going to be secured by2) Elemint: A Web3 tech and strategy company3) BARY: A Web3 consulting agency4) Platinum Group: Global online ticketing & marketing agency, that is the largest ticketing provider at the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Some quotes from the respective partners: Platinium Group Chief Operating Officer Bertrand Labays told Blockworks:

“We are delighted to introduce to our VIP clients this NFT ticket solution, which not only grants access to unparalleled experiences, but also transforms into truly unique memorabilia [that unlocks] perks — forever encapsulating the essence of this extraordinary moment,”

Elie Zerbib, Co-Founder of BARY told CoinDesk:

"NFTs in the form of tickets offer buyers transparency, traceability, seamless digital ticketing, personalization and engagement. By providing a completely seamless experience on the main website, the user doesn't need to have any Web3 knowledge to purchase the NFT ticket. We make users understand the benefits that come with this new type of ticketing and onboard them on a journey that will change their F1 experience.”

Jacques-Henri Eyraud, CEO of Elemint said in a press release:

“Web3 technologies make it possible to design ticketing solutions that are more secure and more adapted to the specificity of each event. The experience becomes more personalized and fun for fans of all types of sports competitions.”

To summarise:

  • Platinum Group (PG) is the exclusive ticketing operator for Formula One Management (FOM), the organisation in charge of the promotion, broadcasting and management of all Formula One Grand Prix events worldwide.

  • Platinium Group has teamed up with Web3 tech company and consultancy Elemint and Web3 agency Bary to help create, mint and sell the NFT tickets on the polygon blockchain, starting with the Monaco Grand Prix. 

  • The NFTs will grant access to the Prix but also to other give buyers other exclusive perks.

  • Certain NFT holders may be offered tickets to the most exclusive party of the event in Monaco

🎟️ 3) Ticketing — the unlock sports is looking for?

This is a quick summary of where we are with Blockchain ticketing:

  • The many things that give a blockchain superpowers are the exact things that cause issues in ticketing; provenance, fraud prevention, data, and collectability.

  • Sports teams are years behind in their digital strategies, let alone going full throttle when it comes to NFT tickets or functional Web3 products.

  • There are so many different greenfield teams trying to create the best blockchain ticketing, or adjacent, proposition

  • Incumbent organisations (like Platinum Group and Ticketmaster) are also heavily investing in blockchain ticketing.

  • The big players hold the keys (the contracts) and want in on the action. Can we trust them to create propositions that make sense and fans will love?

  • There is a massive opportunity here but the hypothesis that blockchains will be a huge unlock for ticketing is not battle tested at scale

With that all in mind, what are some of the benefits that blockchains can give to the ticketing industry, that is causing such an incredible amount of investment in this space - either by VCs or by incumbents?

  • Fraud controls: If every ticket is an NFT on the blockchain, it’s easier to verify whether it’s real or not. Even physical tickets could have NFC chips in them connected to NFTs on a blockchain.

  • Sponsorship Inventory: NFT Tickets can provide an added layer of sponsor inventory for franchises.

  • Collectability: The tickets could become digital collector items in the same way we’ve seen with physical ticket stubs.

  • Better Data: One of the big issues ticket issuers have right now is knowing who the secondary buyer of their tickets are. Blockchains are pretty good when it comes to provenance.

  • Fan Engagement on Steroids: This could be an entire newsletter in itself, but the ability to elongate engagement with fans dependent on a specific event ticket is a big opportunity. Being at the game LeBron broke the NBA scoring record for example — the momento you received as an NFT ticket is there permanently. LeBron, the Lakers or the NBA could then offer holders of those tickets exclusive perks and marketing nudges going forward.

🧠 Concluding thoughts

When I last wrote about Blockchain ticketing in April 2023, I said:

My gut says there’s a big opportunity here, but it’s being overhyped - and that there are barriers and issues at scale that many aren’t envisioning.

With that being said, I must say this announcement has piqued my interest somewhat.

Most publishers are calling this a ‘new platform’ — which is pretty exciting.

Rather than a bolt-on to an existing platform, this is something greenfield, supposedly.

One of the things that has concerned me to date has been whether or not a lot of these solutions, particularly from incumbents, were ‘lipstick on a pig’ that are just using NFTs as a shiny marketing term to win deals, but have the same issues on the backend with the same old tech that has left sports and music fans aggrieved for what feels like a decade now.

For example, we’ve seen a lot of sports franchises create commemorative tickets — which are nice — but they don’t function as the *actual* ticket a fan buys and uses to access an event. It’s usually just an NFT that is given to a fan in *conjunction* with the ticket you buy via a Ticketmaster, for example. This is a halfway solution — as a fan, I still have to go through the laborious process of using existing technology partners that often fall down due to big demand or are janky by today’s standards.

My parents and older friends will always point to the tickets they've collected; from concerts, games, theatre visits and so on. Maybe that doesn’t make a difference, but for blockchain ticketing to make a big mark in the entertainment industry — we need them to be collectables but also functional, like their physical forefather.

One of the issues here is that the way ticketing rights are constructed often involves the venues themselves having a lot of leverage. In fact, some of these deals are done with incumbents and brought forward as revenues to actually *build* the stadiums. That means, innovative solutions (like blockchain ticketing for example) often fall at the first hurdle; venue ticketing rights. And these deals are usually very lengthy, which creates even more issues. Where I see this (blockchain ticketing) becoming more exciting in the future:

  • Platforms not bolt-ons: Propositions that actually create functional blockchain tickets that are not just commemorative.

  • Better front-end experiences: The ticketing platforms we have right now are janky, but the UI in most crypto products, blockchain ticketing ones included, is not great at this moment in time. This has to improve to see mainstream adoption.

  • Fewer announcements, more uptake: There’s a lot of PR about blockchain ticketing, but not much uptake from event attendees.

  • Is ticketing alone enough? A lot of people are expecting blockchain tickets to be ‘the’ thing that a product surrounds itself. And this is most definitely true if a blockchain ticketing provider gets an enormous contract. But for many who don’t, there has to be some concentration on the broader fan experience, including but not exclusive to ticketing.

I’m curious to see how much uptake this new PG platform gets and whether it changes the F1 fan-going experience.

I’m still yet to be won over by blockchain ticketing in sports and I think there’s more hype than substance, but it’s an area that is having heeps invested into it and some very smart people are concentrating their time on this opportunity.

💡Sporting Crypto Spotlight

Brought to you by SEG3: Returning to London June 28/29

Taking place at the Emirates Stadium in London on June 28/29, SEG3 is the meeting place for sports, entertainment and gaming organisations to connect with the global leaders in Web3 and experience the latest products, platforms and projects that are changing the game.

Today I explored F1’s move to blockchain ticketing for the Monaco GP, which highlighted some of the issues event organisers and consumers face when selling/purchasing tickets, and the remedies that a blockchain-powered ticketing system can bring to those problems.

SEG3 is bringing together leading event organisers from the likes of:

Join them to not only discuss blockchain ticketing and more but experience it by purchasing your Early Bird ticket now! I’ll be speaking, and if you want 10% off your ticket click the link below.

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