The Utah Jazz is really into TikTok and NFTs now
The Utah Jazz are trying to continuously push themselves to the edge of innovation.
In September, they launched a “groundbreaking” NFT program, which allowed access to a first-of-its-kind virtual locker room and meet-and-greet with Jazz Owner Ryan Smith. The NFTs sold out within 90 minutes.
Now, Riley Demps, Qualtrics’ NFT project manager, promised that the NFT program would not be a one-time opportunity, and Jazz SVP of communications Frank Zang said phase two of the NFT program is coming soon. On March 1, the Jazz announced that the team had partnered with CoinZoom, which is now the exclusive NFT marketplace for the Jazz.
The partnership will allow Jazz fans to scan QR codes at their seats during games at Vivint Arena to see the latest Jazz NFT releases on the CoinZoom app. At that point, they can purchase them with credit cards, direct deposits, ACH, or over 40 cryptocurrencies, the team said.
“The partnership with CoinZoom gives us the ideal platform to expand our NFT offerings and connect with a larger community of Jazz enthusiasts in a new way,” Jazz president Jim Olson said in the announcement. “Through technology, we can bring more innovative and creative experiences to our fan base in a fun environment.”
That has been the emphasis for the Jazz — finding new ways to bring in fans and get them involved. In October, the Jazz streamed a live practice via Zoom to fans from 44 countries and 42 states. Last month, the team hit 2.1 million followers on TikTok, the second-most among any NBA franchise (the Warriors are first with 3.7 million). Jazz Bear, Utah’s mascot, has more followers than 10 NBA franchises.
“We’ve had a tremendous emphasis on communicating directly with our fans through digital channels and creating unique content,” Zang says. “In essence, we want to provide greater access to the Jazz.”
He adds that everything the Jazz have done in the sphere of fan engagement and experience, along with moving to an all-digital experience for Jazz games at Vivint Arena for tickets, merchandise, and concessions, goes hand-in-hand with the hiring of a chief experience officer last fall, a position created to focus on creating “world-class experiences” for fans. Zang says Utah was the second NBA franchise to hire a chief experience officer.
Former Big Sky Conference commissioner Andrea Williams started in the position in November.
“Taking good care of our fans, guests and employees is truly important to our organization, and the addition of Andrea on our executive team highlights the significance of this role,” Olson said in the announcement of her hire.
The team’s focus on innovation also expands beyond technology. Williams is also focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in her new role. With her vast experience in our industry, she will be a champion for the guest experience as well as lead our internal efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion which will make us a stronger and better organization.”
Zang also mentions the Utah Jazz Scholarship Program. For each Jazz win during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, the Jazz have provided a full scholarship to a student in need. Utah won a league-best 52 regular-season games last season (plus six playoff games), and are on pace for another 50-plus win season in 2021-22 as the NBA returns to an 82-game schedule.
Speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in December, Dwyane Wade, an NBA legend and minority owner of the Jazz since last April, brought up the importance of helping to raise $8 million along with Apple CEO Tim Cook and other partners, to build eight new homes to provide services for LGBTQ+ youth in western states.
“It just fit with what I know my family and I are trying to do,” Wade said at the Fortune event. “What Ryan and Tim and everyone’s a part of building in Utah, it was just chills in my body to know that these kids have someone to talk to, a therapist on-site at all times to talk about the things that they’re dealing with and what they’re going through, to have people really care about them individually. Right now, there’s a lot of problems in the world and a lot of solutions for those problems, and Encircle has become a part of the solution in Utah. So I’m excited to have been a part of this.”
On March 9, the Jazz held LOVELOUD Night at Vivint Arena, a night intended “to celebrate diversity, equity, inclusion, and unity with members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community.”
One day later, on March 10, the Utah Jazz Foundation also announced that it would be funding 32,200 nights of housing for Ukrainian refugees, providing temporary housing for 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine in the aftermath of the Russian invasion.
Beyond the fun basketball-related experiences that the Jazz might offer, they might be able to do more outside of the basketball arena.
“[We’re] constantly looking for ways to innovate and make a difference,” Zang says.