Bitcoin Miners May Trigger Altcoin Season – But We’re Not There Yet

Cryptoasset markets haven’t seen a prolonged “altcoin season” for more than a year, but heavy economic pressure on bitcoin miners could change that

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key takeaways

  • The Altcoin Season Index calculates whether markets are favoring bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies
  • Digital asset investors have gravitated toward bitcoin all year as prices have tumbled

Just 15 of the top 50 cryptocurrencies by market value have outperformed bitcoin (BTC) over the past 90 days — indicating we’re still far from the much-loved “altcoin season.”

Blockchain Center’s Altcoin Season Index gauges the temperature of digital asset markets by separating sentiment into two heady modes: bitcoin and altcoin.

An “altcoin” is considered a derogatory label for much of the cryptocurrency sector, subtly denigrating anything that isn’t the original digital asset. 

Still, the index serves as an effective tool for mapping where investors’ heads are at when it comes to diversifying away from the blue chips.

How it works: Altcoin season has arrived when more than 75% of the top 50 cryptocurrencies (38 or more) have outperformed BTC over the past 90 days. The index filters out stablecoins and asset-backed tokens such as wrapped bitcoin and Lido staked ether.

On the flip side, we’re firmly in bitcoin season if fewer than 25% of the top 50 digital assets have outperformed BTC.

Altcoin Season Index | Source: Blockchaincenter.net

The most recent prolonged altcoin season occurred in 2021, between late March and the last week of June. At the time, BTC was hovering around $60,000 before collapsing 40%, to $34,000.

But crypto markets trended heavily toward bitcoin season throughout July 2021, and formally entered BTC mode for nearly two weeks in August of that year.

Blockchain Center’s index bounced between the two seasons for six months — except for two days in January, when crypto markets briefly propelled altcoin returns beyond bitcoin’s.

Bitcoin miner capitulation could summon altcoin season

The index indicates we’re not currently in the season of the big orange coin. Still, crypto markets have enjoyed more than 70 days of bitcoin season since the start of February — about half the total number of days until today.

Right now, we’re far away from altcoin season, with just 31% of the top 50 cryptocurrencies outperforming BTC over the past 90 days. But that could change quickly should bitcoin miners continue to feel the pressure from low prices and macroeconomic factors driving up electricity costs.

“If miners continue to sell their BTC rewards in order to fund operations then it could definitely swing back to an altcoin season,” said Ryan Swanson, Blockworks Research analyst.

Bearing in mind this doesn’t mean altcoins go up — they can outperform bitcoin in a downtrend too — Swanson explained that altcoin season has historically followed bitcoin season, after a rise in the price of BTC results in more capital moving to riskier assets.

“However, the trend seems to be changing in the near term, given the specific pressures on miners and the emergence of ‘altcoins’ that have their own market cycles, such as layer-1 tokens ether and solana, as well as [decentralized finance] offerings like aave and MakerDAO [MKR],” Swanson said.

Check out Blockworks Research’s latest State of Bitcoin Mining report here.


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