‘NBA Top Shot,’ Proves the Digital Highlights Marketplace Is A Cash Cow

    When Jack Settleman, the 24-year-old creator of a popular Snapchat feed called “Snapback Sports,” paid $47,500 for a copy of a LeBron James homage dunk to Kobe Bryant on NBA Top Shot in January, it highlights a new economy for iconic basketball footage.

    Developed by Vancouver-based Dapper Labs, Top Shot “moments” are like virtual sports cards. They fold short highlight clips into a package replete with 3D animations and player stats.

    Utilizing blockchain technology, and the ever expanding cryptocurrency world, the usage of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) verify the authenticity of these digital collectibles.

    These copies of specific Top Shot moments are given a serial number to indicate the quantities produced. Like other rare objects and first-editions, lower serial numbers are considered more valuable.

    This is in addition to serial numbers that match the player’s jersey number. Settleman bought the No. 23 serial copy of the James dunk to solidify rarity. However, various runs are attributed names, think limited-edition physical trading cards like “Cosmic,” “Holo” and “Metallic Gold.”

    In a few short months, Top Shot has now attracted a group of devoted collectors ranging from traditional card fans, the sports betting community and crypto enthusiasts to retail stock market traders.

    The fact is that now new highlight moments are selling out faster than popular basketball sneaker releases.

    The low cost entry level $9 packs, which contain three moments, aren’t regularly available. Allotments of 25,000 packs are regularly gone as soon as they drop.

    In fact, when the $999 “Holo Icon” packs dropped earlier this month, they were in such high demand that the site crashed.

    The Top Shot platform is still in public beta, however, it has a marketplace with millions of dollars in transactions daily. There are over 50,000 users signed up, who like the retail investors that usurped GameStop on the stock market, talk and compare packs in active social media channels like Discord.

    Dapper takes a 5 percent cut of peer-to-peer sales, which this far have totaled over $60 million.

    For regular fans, sans deep pockets, is the Top Shot highlight moments more secure than other collectibles like jerseys or physical cards? Apparently, even if the crypto bubble collapses in a few years many are willing to bet on the future of these digital moments.

    Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.