Bitmain-owned AntPool is the latest sponsor of the NBA team Houston Rockets. This sponsorship deal has been signed for one year and will be valid for the 2018-2019 season. Sponsorships are critical for any company’s growth as they help them with the visibility. Cryptocurrency firms too, are shelling out huge amounts for this promotional activity. Cryptocurrency businesses have shown a keen interest towards sponsoring sports teams of late. 

This is a big move forward from AntPool, as this will help them gain better brand visibility in the US markets, which the company has been actively targeting of late. AntPool’s overseas operations manager Haijiao Li believes that this is the best way forward for increasing his company’s awareness in the US. 

Moreover, Li also commented that the Houston Rockets are the most popular team in China, considering that Chinese Hall of Famer Yao Ming was a part of the team. He called the Houston Rockets a legendary basketball team with a global reputation. Li then commented:

“As the cryptocurrency industry around the globe continues to evolve and develop, it is going to be more and more important for companies like AntPool to lead the conversation and conversion of consumers to adopt and understand digital currencies. It is an exciting time, and we welcome Rockets fans and those traveling to Houston to visit our showcase at Toyota Center and learn more about the technology that will change the world.”

Partnerships such as these are critical for crypto-firms. The blockchain and cryptocurrency industry is one which is still getting mainstream - and has been around the markets for less than a decade. Moreover, with the price volatility and the government restrictions and regulations, it is even more important for these industries to advertise themselves so that they can raise their awareness. Tying up with brands such as Houston Rockets adds to the credibility of AntPool in the US markets - and makes them a more trusted brand. 

John Croley, the Vice President of Corporate Development for the Houston Rockets, also commented on this partnership between the Rockets and AntPool, saying:

“We’re excited to work with AntPool as a conduit in the U.S. for their ever-growing business. The Rockets are always looking to stay ahead of the curve with technology both on and off the court and AntPool’s prowess with crypto currency makes for a great partnership.”

In July 2018, Major League Baseball (MLB) launched their Ethereum blockchain-based game, called MLB Crypto. Over here, users would be able to buy collectibles using Ether payments. Moreover, they can also play the game to earn various rewards. It is quite similar to cryptokitties in terms of the functioning as users can then sell these collectibles to other users. Moreover, in August this year, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) invested in blockchain startup SportsCastr, which is a platform for live streaming. 

Such partnerships are only bound to increase with time as awareness and creating a trust around their brand is the biggest challenge that most crypto companies are facing at the moment. Another angle with which this partnership can be viewed is that of the Bitmain IPO. Bitmain, the parent firm which owns AntPool - has been looking forward to getting their IPO listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) and this sponsorship is just another way for them to pitch to their investors.