Some thoughts on the first #BitcoinBowl

A week has passed since the first Bitcoin Bowl, on December 26th. Time for a first evaluation of the impact and the reactions to this event.

The Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl

Played for the first time in 2008, the event does not have a whole lot of pre-Bitcoin history. Unless you are a supporter of the UCF Knights, who had three appearances in the seven editions now, you probably did not hear of the St. Petersburg Bowl beforehand, especially if you do not follow (college) football. To make it short, the game itself was more or less interesting (at least judging from the parts when I paid attention to that) and NC State won 34-27 against UCF, this time around. As far as what was going on the field, there was also some complaints about the quality of the pitch. In any case, most of the audience following on Twitter rather cared about what happened off the field.

The Sponsor

The sponsor was not the Bitcoin Foundation, as one might assume, hearing the name of the game, but rather one of the leading Bitcoin payment providers, BitPay. If BitPay’s goal was to gain credibility and popularity within the Bitcoin community, this certainly seems to have worked, judging by reactions on Twitter during the game and on Reddit the days after. Some criticism was raised that parts of the audience would confuse Bitcoin with BitPay and/or misunderstand Bitcoin as a product of Bitcoin, but by-and-large, the reactions were positive.

There was also some reports about new partners signing up with BitPay due to the Bowl. If this makes a dent in terms of total transaction volume for BitPay seems questionable, as prior partners already included Newegg, Microsoft and Paypal, among others.

The Commercials

Most of the attention of the Twitter-audience was on the commercial breaks. While Dogecoin made an appearance in NASCAR, this was the first time for Bitcoin to appear in commericals on national TV in the US (on ESPN). Here are the commercials by BitPay:

One to convey trust in BitPay as a business, one generic ones with “testimonials”, and a somewhat edgy-funny one (probably to cater to the Bitcoin community itself). Most of the reactions to the commercials seemed quite positive.

The other Winners (?)

Not among the winner are those that have directly invested in Bitcoin itself, as the price in USD continued to decline after the event. However, there’s some other winners. Like ChangeTip, a micropayment startup, that reached more than 500% of the turnover on a regular day, during the Bowl. However, this was largely due to a promotion by ChangeTip itself, promising a small amount of free Bitcoin to everyone that tweets about #BitcoinBowl during the game. Inofficial tracker ChangeTip Stats shows that activity is around pre-event levels again now. In any case, the total transaction volume that was processed by ChangeTip to date is pretty low, at barely over $100.000, according to their website. Nevertheless, ChangeTip seems to have gotten a lot of positive attention, at least.

The Positives

One of the positive take-aways from this event is simply that Bitcoin made it onto national TV (without a scandal or illegal activity being involved). If this really results is a “March to Mainstream”, as Coindesk seems to think (hope), remains to be seen. Another reason to be still somewhat optimistic about “something” coming out of Bitcoin is that it’s supporters seem surprisingly diverse: I clicked through some of the Twitter bios of people tweeting during the game and was surprised to see a VP of a Fortune 500 company tweeting, as well as a former Marine, for example.