New Balance of Power: Messi Engages Twitch and Crypto on PSG Arrival
Lionel Messi’s move to Paris Saint Germain after Barcelona’s financial dire straits rendered their star man unaffordable has not only shown how the financial locus of power has shifted but also the new technologies and media that now matter in football.
Why it matters
Seen as an endorsement of these new technologies, this is a coup for Twitch and a significant moment for the mainstreaming of crypto technologies. Here, it’s worth thinking about the possibilities rather than the clear implications of the move; key here are the potential effects on digital ownership and smart contracting.
As Messi arrived in Paris on Wednesday for his unveiling as a PSG player, he gave an exclusive interview to the Spanish Twitch streamer Ibai Llanos, which was viewed by 317,000 according to Bloomberg.
It reflects a shift in importance away from traditional TV in certain markets and toward streaming, with Asia – a key target market for European football clubs.
Twitch viewership climbed 83% during the pandemic, and is now going beyond its traditional gaming remit: Llanos broadcast games from the Copa America this summer and streamed a top-flight La Liga game on his channel having made a deal with the rights owner.
Elsewhere, news emerged that Messi’s lucrative new deal with the Qatar-backed French club would include some payment in the shape of cryptocurrency fan tokens, Reuters reported.
Fan tokens are a new idea based on the blockchain-based technology behind cryptocurrencies and NFTs (Non-fungible tokens), or digital assets.
For clubs, issuing fan tokens that allow holders voting rights on certain club decisions this is a rich new revenue stream with one issuer saying its partner clubs had generated around $200m from such sales.
While prices have varied wildly, there is the potential for fan token sales to become more common as parts of player deals, albeit with greater risk than a typical compensation agreement.