(Bloomberg) -- Getty Images Inc. has signed a multiyear deal with Candy Digital, the digital collectibles firm owned by Fanatics Inc., as the provider of news and stock photos breaks into the nonfungible-token business ahead of its plans to go public.
As part of the agreement, the pair will develop a range of NFT products from Getty’s sizable library and archive, made up of nearly 500 million images. They’re preparing to release digital formats of rare analog works as well as modern images across culture, art and world events. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
“It’s very analogous to our physical-print business, as we sell prints across entertainment and sports and celebrity,” Getty Chief Executive Officer Craig Peters said in an interview. “We’re bringing a similar capacity to the NFT space.”
Digital collectibles became a popular alternative asset last year as investors looked for new places to put their money. The market has since cooled off after a rough start to the year, with transaction activity down, but cryptocurrency wallets still sent more than $37 billion to NFT marketplaces in the first four months of 2022, according to data from crypto research firm Chainalysis.
Peters said he isn’t worried about the ups and downs of the market as Getty is in it for the long term. He said a storied brand like Getty can help build confidence over time in a sector that’s saddled with trust issues between consumers and sellers due to fakes and fraud. Still, brands from sports franchises to fashion houses have gotten involved in the market, creating a busy competitive landscape. Rival photo service the Associated Press began selling its own NFTs on a new marketplace in January.
Getty hasn’t yet set sales projections for its new business line as it prepares to go public in the first half of the year through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company backed by investment firms CC Capital and Neuberger Berman. The deal, currently pending approval from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, values the company at $4.8 billion.
Candy Digital, meanwhile, is making its first move outside sports as Fanatics looks to broaden its scope, adding to ongoing agreements with Major League Baseball, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. and the Race Team Alliance. Executives have said they’re seeking more deals with leagues, teams and individual athletes.
For owner Fanatics, Candy is a key piece of CEO Michael Rubin’s aspirations as he expands beyond the company’s roots in sports merchandise into sectors such as trading cards and sports betting. In October, a funding round led by private equity firm Insight Partners and SoftBank Vision Fund 2 valued Candy at $1.5 billion.
“It’s about creating what I hope will look a lot like our other partnerships which are decades long, like the NBA or BBC,” said Peters.
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