Dallas Cowboys’ partnership with Blockchain.com signals more mainstream crypto exposure

For the first time, a crypto exchange is partnering with an NFL team in a long-term, exclusive relationship that could bring further exposure of digital assets to mainstream audiences.

The partnership between Blockchain.com and the Dallas Cowboys was announced on Wednesday at the NFL team’s headquarters in Frisco, Texas, by Jerry Jones, the football team’s owner, president and general manager, alongside Peter Smith, Blockchain.com’s co-founder and CEO. NFL rules prevented the price or deal length from being disclosed, according to Brooks Wallace, head of communications at Blockchain.com.

This is the first national professional sports deal for the crypto company, which has been around since 2011 and will include branding, advertising, content and event opportunities. However, it will not include naming rights to the Cowboys’ stadium, which will remain AT&T Stadium.

Its stadium holds 80,000 people at capacity and will be adding a QR code on every seat that will link to the Cowboys’ website and highlight Blockchain.com’s wallet so fans can learn more about crypto, Wallace said.

“The Cowboys have built one of the most valuable and treasured brands in America, and one of the reasons we wanted to partner with them is to collaborate on building our brand together,” Smith told TechCrunch. “We’re primarily technology people, not brand people, so learning from the best is something we’re really excited about.”

Millions of Cowboys fans are going to learn about crypto this football season, Smith said. “The Thanksgiving Day game is the most-watched [Cowboys’] TV game and we’ll be there this Thanksgiving Day game.”

In addition, the partnership will provide Cowboys fans with the ability to engage both IRL and online through social media promotions on Blockchain.com’s wallet. The offers range from away-game VIP trips to player-hosted events, it said. The partnership also aims to educate fans on digital assets and will host an educational summit for people to learn more.

“​​They are bringing Wall Street to Main Street by making digital assets available to anyone, anywhere in the world — and that’s a touchdown for our millions of global fans,” Jones said in a statement.

Blockchain.com CEO Peter Smith and

Peter Smith, Blockchain.com’s co-founder and CEO, and Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner, president and general manager. Image Credits: Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images

This partnership comes a few weeks after the NFL announced on March 22 that teams would no longer be forbidden from sponsorship contracts with blockchain-based exchanges or wallet companies. Individual clubs, however, are limited in signing licensing deals for NFTs and can only put out the digital collectibles “as permitted in connection with League-level NFT partnerships.”

“The League has identified certain blockchain-related businesses that we believe may be engaged for League and club promotional relationships without undertaking excessive regulatory or brand risk,” three league executives wrote in the memo last month, “provided that the companies in question and the specific products being promoted have been properly vetted.”

Regardless of the NFL’s rules, professional players — like Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who partnered with crypto exchange FTX — are still getting into crypto deals off of the field.

“I think you will see a few NFL [and crypto] deals follow,” Smith said. “This will be the first of many NFL deals.”

Blockchain.com plans to work closely with the Cowboys and NFL to expand the use of crypto over time in the stadium experience and online fan experience, Smith noted. “We’ll start small then expand it over time over the next few years.”

Crypto in sports

Partnerships and deals with sports teams aren’t a new concept, but crypto-related ones have been ramping up in the past year.

Outside of the NFL, there has been a major influx of crypto companies joining forces with U.S. professional sports teams and players in the past 12 months.

It seems like anytime you turn on ESPN you’ll see a crypto company emblazoned across a jersey or pinned to the side of the stadium. FTX is one of the biggest crypto exchanges to bet on sports partnerships: In less than a year, it became the official cryptocurrency exchange brand of the MLB and the Golden State Warriors and renamed the Miami Heat’s arena to FTX Arena. In addition to Brady, the exchange also partnered with a number of celebrities and professional athletes, including “Shark Tank” investor Kevin O’Leary and NBA star Stephen Curry.

FTX was valued at $18 billion in July 2021 and almost doubled its valuation to $32 billion by the end of January 2022. While it’s uncertain whether the deals and partnerships have had a significant impact on its valuation spike, the exchange’s desire to put its brand in front of mainstream audiences was clear.

Crypto.com also got into the sports scene last year after it launched a $100 million advertising campaign across 20 countries with sponsorship deals with actor Matt Damon, Formula 1 and others.

Additionally, Crypto.com got 20 years of naming rights to the former Staples Center, home to the Los Angeles Kings, Lakers, Clippers and Sparks. That two-decade deal also serves as a signal that crypto is here to stay.

And as more crypto companies push their brand awareness, it can often lead to more crypto adoption, which was on display during the 2022 Super Bowl, when FTX, Crypto.com, BitBuy, eToro, Coinbase and others bought ad space to air to about 208 million viewers.

If a mere 2% of 100 million viewers invest in bitcoin after the Super Bowl, it could raise the price of the cryptocurrency by $1,500 in a single day, according to a YouTuber identified as James who runs a channel called InvestAnswers.

And James was right: After the Super Bowl, the price briefly increased 6% from about $42,000 per bitcoin to $44,500 two days later.

At the same time, Coinbase’s application downloads shot up after the Super Bowl. Its viral ad, which was just a QR code bouncing around on a black screen like an old DVD screensaver, resulted in installs jumping 309% week over week after the ad aired on Super Bowl Sunday, February 13, and it continued to climb by another 286% the following day, TechCrunch reported.

“This [adoption] is global — this is not just UFC fighters or NFL football players. It’s top soccer players in Europe and all sorts of stuff,” James said.