The NFT (non-fungible token) market in India is still nascent, unregulated and undefined but NFT marketplace for sports and cinema alone has the potential to surpass $1 billion in value in the near- to mid-term, predict analysts at Deloitte. Thanks to scores of local cricket fanatics and movie buffs. India is estimated to have more than 500 million cricket fans; and the country’s love for Bollywood is legendary.

Celebrated stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Salman Khan and Kamal Hassan launched NFTs in 2021. “Amitabh Bachhan’s NFTs went under the hammer for more than ₹7 crore while Rajinikanth offered more than 60 NFTs from his successful films. Cricketers such as Sunil Gavaskar, Yuvraj Singh and Rishabh Pant are also a part of this bandwagon,” analysts at Deloitte say, citing media reports. They expect these early movers to “catalyse the market”.

Uptake of entertainment and sports NFTs may also create room to introduce non-millennials to active digital channels, reckon experts. Non-millennials may want to own, participate and trade in cricketing movements of the 80s or 90s or have a share in the digital impressions of events/movies from these times, they say. Such a move is expected to broaden the demand, widening the monetisation avenues for media players, those in arts, museums and private collectors.

“They can monetise the digital content they own, which thus far was mainly based on visual impressions on media or OTT platforms,” explain analysts.

“India will see a unique marketplace in NFTs (rather than being mere collectibles). Utility and fandom value will drive the NFT uptake in India,” say analysts. Consequently, such NFTs will drive different business models and propositions. For instance, NFT owners may be a part of an invite-only club. They can get an opportunity to interact with superstars in person or online, have access to the pre-release screening of movies and even engage with sportspersons after a match.

“Over a period of time, NFT owners may be able to collectively vote on the direction a script may take in an online series,” predict analysts. The ecosystem may also develop to enable selling video clips of prominent movie moments.

The NFT market in India is, however, estimated to be volume-driven given most Indians’ “penchant for stored or resale value of things that they own.” Besides, the advent of NFTs also opens up space for the government to monetise.

“For example, the sports ministry may consider NFT-ising famous moments of Indian athletes or sports stars in events such as Olympics or Asiad, or the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting can NFT-ise digital footage of historical events,” say experts. Such initiatives, if taken by the government, will only help kick-start the market which has so far been led by the private sector.

With online gaming finding more takers, analysts expect NFTs on game merchandise to see an ‘upswing’ in the next few months. “With Metaverse applications picking up, the uptake of NFTs will only increase,” they add.

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