Big Event Ticketing is the Next Phase of How NFTs Will Be Used: Dapper Labs' O'Hagan
When it comes to concerts and professional sports, two of the biggest brands experimenting with NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are the National Football League (NFL) and Ticketmaster. NFL Sr. Director Emerging Products Daniel DeVece and Ticketmaster Director of Product Management Joe Aiello were on hand at the NFT.NYC 2023 conference in New York City where they, along with Dapper Labs VP of Partnerships Brittany O'Hagan presented a session on how NFTs are powering fan engagement. Following the session, Blockchain Journal editor-in-chief David Berlind took the opportunity to interview O'Hagan to better understand how Dapper Labs is working with the NFL and Ticketmaster and how other enterprises and big brands should be thinking about NFTs and the opportunities they create.
One thing that O'Hagan made clear is that the three organizations — what she calls the three-headed monster" — do not yet have all the answers. The applications of NFTs to fandom and big brands is such a new area for many organizations that the three-headed monster is still "in the depths just grinding" on new ideas. But what the three organizations do know is that they are moving forward with blockchain and NFTs. The first outcome of their collaboration is called NFL All Day; a brand involving NFT-based digital collectibles that will feature NFL game highlights on the Flow public distributed ledger.
But according to O'Hagan, there's more to come. During the interview, O'Hagan talked about using the individual brand powers of the league, team, and player to unlock new levels of fandom that are currently unavailable to sports fans in real life. But in terms of applications that are transferrable to other industries and enterprises, one major use case that the three organizations are looking into (especially given Ticketmaster's involvement) is the idea of NFT-based ticketing for events like concerts and big league games (Dapper Labs is also working with the National Basketball Association; the NBA).
According to O'Hagan, ticketing on a big-event scale is definitely the next phase of how NFTs can and will be used. But in order for blockchain-based ticketing to really work, it will not only take a lot of fan education, it will also depend on how easy it will be for big brands to bridge their existing fan and customer bases to Web3 experiences where there's still a fair amount of onboarding friction.
By David BerlindPublished:April 19, 2023
David Berlind: Today is April 12, 2023. I'm David Berlind, bringing you the Blockchain Journal podcast from New York City where right now, NFT New York City is taking place, NFT.NYC 2023. Sitting with me is Brittany O'Hagan. She's the Vice President of Partnerships with Dapper Labs. So first of all, thank you for joining me on the show.
Brittany O'Hagan: Of course. Nice to meet you.
Berlind: Yeah, it's very nice to meet you as well. You just were on stage and you were presenting with two gentlemen, one from Ticketmaster, the other one from the NFL. It was a great presentation on what it is big enterprises, big brands can be doing with NFTs. So I want to talk to you a little bit about that. But first, why don't you just tell me a little bit about what Dapper Labs is?
O'Hagan: I would love to. Dapper Labs is one of the industry leaders in bringing sports and entertainment in the form of digital collectibles to the blockchain. Our goal is to make NFTs and digital collectibles out to the mainstream. How can we reach all of the sports fans out there, bring them to the blockchain, and let them be a part of this incredible community?
Berlind: So do you work with big enterprises like the NFL and Ticketmaster to help them get this done where they don't have the expertise for it?
O'Hagan: I do. I lead our partnership with the NFL and that also encompasses the NFL PA, all of the team deals that we work directly with some of the NFL clubs. And I'd like to think I know what I'm talking about. It's a collaboration. We're all doing this. We're all in this unknown space. There's no roadmap on what to do, what not to do. We're literally doing things that nobody has done before and it's really empowering and amazing to work with some of these global IPs in the sports industry especially. And, like I said, we're in this together, but we're using the power of their brands to reach a new audience and make sure that we are connecting this audience with what they're a fan of, whether that's the NFL, whether that's a team, whether that's a player and unlocking access and unlocking fandom that nobody can have in real life. It's all done now through digital collectibles.
Berlind: We heard on the panel that people used to love to collect their ticket stubs, right? And I, of course, have many of those ticket stubs, basketball games, football games, concerts. Of course, Ticketmaster's involved with concerts. So you said you're looking to connect with new fans, new audiences, but there's also the old ones, the traditional ones who suddenly, because of the fact that there are e-tickets, there are no more stubs anymore. They don't have that memorabilia. So you're probably connecting with both audiences, right?
O'Hagan: We are. There is such power in the emotional connection to ticket stubs, [and] magazine clippings that you've saved. I used to collect all the Sports Illustrateds from the 90s, and we lean into those traditional collectors too. I mean, there is an audience of folks who have been in the memorabilia space for their entire life, generations passed down, and there's definitely that audience that we cannot forget about because they understand the value of collecting and the emotional attachment and the adrenaline rush that comes with opening a pack or figuring out what you landed and then taking that through your fandom journey.
Berlind: So, what is it exactly that the NFL has done with you guys?
O'Hagan: So we have launched NFL ALL DAY. It's a brand of digital collectibles that features video highlights from game footage and first of its kind. We're the only video highlight partner of the NFL, and we really bring games to life in the form of NFTs on the flow blockchain.
Berlind: Okay. And when you say you bring the games to life, it's all sorts of digital assets, basically. And what about NFL ticketing? Where's that going? Is that going to happen soon?
O'Hagan: We are working with Ticketmaster — great partners of ours, NFL, also great partners of ours. The three-headed monster. We are a powerful trio. We're working on what that looks like. Ticketing is definitely the next phase of how NFTs can be used. There's a lot of real-world applications that need to be unlayered and ticketing is definitely an avenue that we see as something happening in the future.
Berlind: So you're on stage with the NFL and Ticketmaster. Are there any other brands that you guys are working with?
O'Hagan: We work with the NBA. We have officially licensed deals with some really powerful players in global football. And we will be launching shortly a major announcement with a major global IP in the entertainment space that we're really excited about. So, we see this as a new avenue for these massive global brands to reach a new audience and connect with their audiences and their fans, and their collectors in a new way.
Berlind: So, these organizations that you're working with, [are] primarily in the sports and entertainment space, but there's got to be some lessons that enterprises, in general, can take away from the work that you're doing with these super big brands. Let's start off with the obstacles. What are the obstacles that you've run into just getting big organizations to embrace the whole idea of blockchain, NFTs, Web3, et cetera?
O'Hagan: It's a journey. There's a lot of education involved. Luckily, a lot of these IPs have the forethought to understand that there is something here. This is going to be a big thing. And what that's going to look like, a lot of us don't know. We are just in the depths, just grinding to see what we can make from this. And again, a lot of these incredible IP partners, they know that—
Berlind: Sorry, IP Partners. IP stands for?
O'Hagan: Intellectual property. So think of the licensor. So the NFL, NFLPA, NBA, and a lot of these partners who own the footage or the IP trademark images that we use, they understand that this is going to be something. There is a future here. This is the future of fandom. This is going to unlock capabilities and connections that nobody can define yet. And they're in it with us. And it's exciting to be on this journey with such incredible partners and global brands and global IP because that's who's going to help bring this to the mainstream.
Berlind: So maybe they have a little bit of the fear of the unknown. On the fan side though, there are also some obstacles. You guys were on stage talking about some of the friction to just engage with NFTs to get on board with blockchain and all that. It's not for the faint at heart.
O'Hagan: There's a lot of education involved. And when you're working with new technology and when you're working with something that is so unknown and so new, there's obviously going to be some friction and obstacles. We're working really hard on what that technology should look like, what it should feel like. The user journey is so important to us and how can we make this easily adoptable. So somebody who is so used to going on Web2 and scouring the internet can then take that skillset and that knowledge and easily adapt that to Web3.
Berlind: From your point of view, I know you guys are just sort of... you're getting together, you're having meetings, you're learning as you go, but we all watched the headlines, the news when there was a meltdown with ticketing on the Taylor Swift concerts. And, when I saw that, I thought, "There's got to be something that blockchain can do to help overcome some of these issues with scalability." I know Ticketmaster's your partners. I'm not going to ask you to speak disparagingly of them, but do you think blockchain can solve for some issues, some scalability issues, some other issues to just make that whole ticketing experience way better?
O'Hagan: That's what we're working through. Ticketmaster, Live Nation [are] incredible partners. They're on the forefront. They are innovation-focused, and we're extremely lucky to be able to work with them because we do see ticketing as another frontier for Web3 and for digital collectibles. And they've really leaned in with us, with the NFT, and like I said before, there's this great synergy that we're all trying to figure out how to unlock.
Berlind: Okay, well, Brittany O'Hagan, Vice President of Partnerships with Dapper Labs. Thanks very much for joining us on the Blockchain Journal podcast.
O'Hagan: Thank you so much. So nice to meet you.
Berlind: Nice to meet you. Have a great show.
O'Hagan: Thank you.