There has been a steady stream of NFT sports memorabilia releases this year. However, they have met with decidedly mixed results. In this article, we will try to figure out if the 2020-21 Prizm Basketball NFT Blockchain will take off or not.
Panini isn’t new to the NFT game. They have been dabbling in high-end Blockchain products since 2020. However, the Italian card giant’s announcement of a Prizm line of NFT is different. It is their first pack-based NFT product and will have a lower price point.
Panini announced its new Prizm-based line on June 9, 2021. The official announcement read, “All cards in the set will be housed in the longstanding Panini NFT Blockchain platform that began in January 2020.
Panini envisions the brand as an affordable NFT line. The pricing will contrast with their expensive existing offerings. As their press release explained, “The pack-offering format allows Panini America to expand its NFT portfolio while offering collectors an opportunity to enter the marketplace in a more affordable manner.”
As we all know, Top Shot is the big player in the basketball NFT market. However, Panini is banking on the popularity of its Prizm brand to catapult them over the competition.
Is that a realistic expectation? Well, let’s examine the strength of that brand.
In the late 1990s, the Topps chrome cards were the go-to NBA brand for rookie cards. However, the American company lost its contract with the professional basketball league to Panini in 2009.
Panini invested a ton of cash (amount unknown) into gaining those rights but could not fully capitalize on the opportunity in its first few years. In addition, many American collectors were distrustful of Panini’s reputation as a European sticker producer and were unimpressed with the early offerings.
The company first released the Prizm series in 2012-2013. It was well-received. However, it was not as popular as their Topps predecessors and generally fetched lower values.
The introduction of the glossy Prizm cards was the key to their domination of the NBA market. In particular, the 2015-2016 release with its popular Ben Simmons Silver Prizms saw them emerge as the go-to cards for the sport.
Prizm cards are the main NBA rookie cards and tend to have the most secondary value. The card boom, which started in 2020, saw Prizm prices skyrocket. Prizm blaster boxes experienced a 1400% price increase from 2019 to 2020.
One of the secrets of the success of Prizm was its proximity to the Topps Chrome cards that collectors found comfortingly familiar. Unfortunately, however, most collectors got into the hobby after the Topps Chrome NBA era. So that advantage is eroding.
Over the last few years many collectors have expressed a preference for the Optic cards over their Prizm equivalents. Their attractive ‘rated rookie’ cards are certainly aesthetically pleasing and could very well be more valuable in the long term. To me, there is no competition. The Optic cards are far more appealing.
Therefore, there is some concern that Prizm is a format in decline. Unfortunately, that does not bode well for the NFT release.
Panini has had a Blockchain line of NFT collectibles available since January 6, 2020. That year they launched the National Treasures Collection.
The concept was somewhat different from the new release. While collectors owned the card through Blockchain, they received a physical version of it after purchase. In addition, Panini sells the cards through an auction rather than bought in packs.
These products have not taken off. A card retailer accurately told CNBC that the release has “niche popularity.” That is not a compliment.
Panini’s rivals at Topps have also been unable to gain momentum off their NFT release based on their flagship series. While they sold out the first release of packs, collectors have been decidedly unimpressed, and there is a definite lack of enthusiasm around the MLB release.
There is no more significant sign of the relative lack of success of the Topps release than MLB’s decision to go in another direction. The baseball organization signed a deal with Candy to release more video-oriented NFT material.
The fact that previous Panini releases have also failed is also not the best sign.
Panini is planning a soft launch for the product, probably to avoid the sort of problems Topps had with the launch of its NFT product. Therefore, they will release the products gradually and in limited preview packs.
Here is the release schedule for the soft launch:
Here is the complete tentative list of releases, as of June:
Panini did not release the prices for the Gold and Black releases. But you can bet it will be a lot more than 20$.
While Panini did not divulge release numbers, it appears that the Green Ice release will be more limited than the Red Mosaic. Its higher price tag also hints they view it as a more exclusive release.
“It’s important to note that although Base Prizm and Silver Prizm parallel packs are being offered on multiple days, the entire 2020-21 Prizm Basketball NFT Blockchain product is being pre-minted to set quantities from the initial offering, and the full run of any individual card will be distributed in lots across the release schedule.”
If so, Panini is trying to learn from the mistakes of Top Shot. Unfortunately, the enormous runs of some of the Top Shot ‘moments” have drained the product of much of its value.
When NBA Top Shot took off massively earlier this year, sports collectible NFT’s seemed like the next big thing. So Panini and seemingly every company under the sun began launching their own brand.
However, the Top Shot market has tanked recently. Indeed, there is a general decline in the performance of NFT’s across the board.
There is no doubt that the Prizm packs, especially at these reasonable prices, will sell out immediately. However, the long-term value of this line is a whole other question.
If you want my two cents: Top Shot has a better chance of continued success than the Panini Prizm NFT’s. The Dapper Labs product has many drawbacks, and its website has experienced severe problems. However, they offer a unique product tailor-made for NFT use.
Everyone says that NFT’s are here to stay. And they are right. But I can’t help but feel a lack of imagination in most releases holding the format back. At least inside our hobby.
The NFT market is fast-paced and changing constantly. There is too much uncertainty to make any firm predictions. But it appears that the companies using NFT’s to create exciting and DIFFERENT collectibles from traditional cards have a comparative advantage in the market. Therefore, Candy and Dapper Labs have the edge over Topps and Panini. At least for now.
Panini has the global reach and history of innovation to make an imprint on the digital collecting market. However, an uninspired release of its declining flagship property is probably not going to get it done. Until the sports card conglomerates stop basing their NFT products on existing cardboard (or chrome) lines, they will not realize the format’s full potential.