January 30 – The Premier League has unveiled a four-year deal with fantasy football game Sorare that will see the league license official player cards.
Users of the game will be able to buy and use official Premier League-licensed NFTs under the exclusive agreement that will see the release digital cards of players from all 20 Premier League clubs as part of its free-to-play online fantasy football game.
While playing the game is free, what aren’t free are the players required to compete. Game users buy, sell, collect, and build teams with the digital player cards. Games are played as five-a-side with player performances based on the real-time performance of players on the pitch.
With the Premier League game launch, Sorare has introduced new gameplay features including league-specific competitions, draft-based gameplay, and a salary cap on squads preventing players picking all-star teams.
The Premier League joins the rest of Europe’s Big 5 leagues – Bundesliga, LaLiga, Serie A and Ligue1 – on the Sorare platform.
Paris-based Sorare launched in 2018 and has more than 3 million users worldwide. The company was valued at $4.3 billion in 2021.
Richard Masters, chief executive of the Premier League, said: “The way that supporters follow their favourite teams and players is evolving and the Premier League is always looking for ways to engage with fans.
“Sorare’s digital cards and innovative online game represent a new way for them to feel closer to the Premier League whether they are watching in the stadium or from around the world.”
Premier League says its matches are broadcast to 880 million households in 188 countries, with 90 broadcasters and more than 400 channels showing games. The league says it has almost a billion followers on social media. For Sorare it represents a huge and engaged target market for its game.
While overall NFT sales dropped 78% in December to $678.2 million from $3.1 billion a year ago as the crypto winter hit, Sorare says its experience is the opposite with exchanges of cards on the platform amounted to $500 million last year, up from $270 million in 2021.
Even so, Sorare reckons 87% of players don’t spend money on the platform.
No value was given for the deal, though reports in UK media say it is worth £30 million.
Nicolas Julia, CEO and co-founder of Sorare, said: “It’s a major milestone for us as we pursue our goal to build a compelling global sports community for fans and we’re extremely proud to have now partnered with three of the biggest sports leagues in the world: the Premier League, NBA and MLB.”
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