GOING GLOBAL: Oak View Group’s Brian Kabatznick, Wesley Elizabeth Cullen, Dan Griffis and Ticketmaster’s Rusty Watkins.

“What does fandom get you?” was the question of the day during the “Global Footprint: Let’s Talk NFTs, Crypto Sponsorships, Touring Expansion and Venue Sponsorships” panel at the 2022 VenuesNow Conference in Austin on Friday.

Moderated by Brian Kabatznick, executive vice president of business development and facilities for Oak View Group, participants included Wesley Elizabeth Cullen, vice president of international venue development for Oak View Group, Dan Griffis, president of global partnerships for Oak View Group, and Rusty Watkins, senior director of NFT account management and marketing for Ticketmaster.

Emerging from the pandemic and the impact of an uncertain economy factored into the conversation as industry thought leaders explored ways to adapt and push boundaries – domestically and internationally.

Strategies include exploiting NFTs via pricing and artist and consumer acceptance; building crypto sponsorship packages; expanding tours internationally into new markets and venues; and groundbreaking venue partnerships in new categories with innovative activations.

At the forefront was new technology – what it can unlock for fans and how the industry can create opportunities for incremental revenue.

Perspectives differed about the balance of opportunity and risk values amid rapid change, but the panel was optimistic about the future.

Cullen said international business opportunities are plentiful despite aging and antiquated facilities and other markets that are completely devoid of venues. Live Nation, Oak View Group and GL events are building a 20,000-capacity arena in São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil.

“There is momentum and an appetite for venues,” Cullen said. “There is no stopping us.”

On the sponsorship side, there are brands that are reluctant to act during an economic downturn and others that are ready to commit, according to Griffis.

“(Some) brands are cutting back and reticent to spend money on sports and entertainment because some CEO considers it frivolous,” Griffis said. “That excuse is garbage and there are just as many brands that are ready to double down. Our job is to build value.”

Griffis said Oak View Group has sold sponsorships totaling $4.7 billion across all properties. The $700 million naming deal for the Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center), is the current bar for naming rights, but Griffis sees that figure topping $1 billion in the future.

“Find a story that will make a brand want to spend money with you,” Griffis said.

Griffis has taken a step back on NFTs, but panelist Watkins is enthusiastic. Watkins gave several examples of NFT success including digital collectibles and integrating NFTs into loyalty programs for sports teams, artists and venues.

“Venues are focused on the fan experience more and more and what their relationship is with their venue,” he said. “We can extend that experience.”

Watkins anticipates that NFTs will be fully integrated into loyalty programs in the next five years. I’m excited about where we are going.”