NHL hockey gives the term 'NFT' the cold shoulder with launch of digital collectibles

Quick Take

  • Like Disney and Dapper Labs, the NHL’s most recent NFT project opts to call the digital assets “collectibles.”
  • Other professional sports leagues diving into digital collectibles include the NBA, MLB and NFL.

As far as many mainstream companies and organizations go, the acronym NFT appears to have been put out to pasture. 

On the heels of Disney's announcement earlier this week — when it announced a "digital pin" platform in conjunction with one-time NFT juggernaut Dapper Labs and appeared to purposefully avoid using NFT in its official statement — the National Hockey League seems to have followed suit with the launch of the "digital collectibles" collection called NHL Breakaway.

"The NHL Breakaway platform delivers an immersive experience featuring some of the most recognizable and iconic highlights in NHL history," the professional hockey league said in a statement announcing its partnership with the web3 company Sweet.

Sweet, according to its website, is an "NFT platform" that connects brands with fans.

With NHL Breakaway "fans and collectors can collect, gift, trade, display and participate in set collections and challenges to earn exciting rewards," the hockey league and Sweet said in a statement. The platform will allow community members, a lot like Dapper Labs did with NBA Top Shot, to collect digital trade packs and highlights (NFTs) of their favorite highlights or hockey players.

This, however, is not the NHL's first foray into NFTs. In April, the league teamed up with sports trading card company Upper Deck to launch a digital collectible collection. Some fans panned the NHL for entering the digital asset market later than other sports leagues.


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NFT doesn't roll off the tongue

Besides the NBA, Major League Baseball has also dipped its toe into the NFT market. Not to be outdone, the National Football League, the U.S.'s most popular sport, partnered with Mythical Games to create a blockchain-based game where players can collect NFTs.

Scott Lawin, CEO of Candy Digital, the company that runs a marketplace where fans can collect MLB non-fungible tokens, said his company abandoned the word "NFT" long ago.

"I don't think we've used the term NFT for over two years," he told The Block. "In terms of a brand 'non-fungible token' doesn't roll off the tongue or help people understand what it's all about."

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

RT Watson is a senior reporter at The Block who covers a wide array of topics including U.S.-based companies, blockchain gaming and NFTs. Formerly covered entertainment at The Wall Street Journal, where he wrote about Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros. and the creator economy while focusing primarily on technological disruption across media. Previous to that he covered corporate, economic and political news in Brazil while at Bloomberg. RT has interviewed a diverse cast of characters including CEOs, media moguls, top influencers, politicians, blue-collar workers, drug traffickers and convicted criminals. Holds a master's degree in Digital Sociology.


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