SBD/April 10, 2012/Media

Topps Releases Two Apps Aimed At Regaining Traction In Baseball Card Market

Topps Pennant app recreates over 60 years of baseball plays dating back to '52
Topps yesterday announced it has released two iOS apps -- Topps Pennant and Topps Bunt. The Topps Pennant application is available for the iPhone and the iPad and recreates over 60 years of baseball plays dating back to '52. Bunt, available on the iPad, is a social game that acts as a companion to the baseball season (Topps). In N.Y., Amy Chozick wrote the new apps “represent the start” of Topps President & CEO Ryan O’Hara’s new digital strategy. O’Hara said that the plan “calls for a couple of new apps annually that will each require an investment ‘in the mid-six figures.’” Baseball card collecting “has fallen out of favor with children,” and Topps is “trying to breathe digital life into a once-cherished hobby.” The new apps “represent important pieces of a larger strategy intended to slowly expand the fading baseball card business into a broader media company complete with digital offerings, and potentially shows, movies and clothing lines.” At its peak in the ‘80s and ‘90s the baseball card industry “produced about $1 billion in domestic sales, compared with about $200 million today.” Industry estimates show that today, the market for baseball cards in the U.S. “is made up of about 70 percent adults and 30 percent children.” MLBPA Dir of Licensing & Business Development Evan Kaplan said that a “thriving baseball card industry in any form is in the interest of the game, because cards engage children with baseball early on” (N.Y. TIMES, 4/9). 

THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT: In Seattle, Steve Kelly reported former NFLers Joe Tafoya, Kerry Carter, Chike Okeafor and Omare Lowe have formed digital outfit Jump It Media, and business “is starting to boom.” The group is “building profile applications for athletes to help them increase their brands through online channels.” Among their subjects are Bears LB Lance Briggs and Mavericks G Jason Terry. These profile apps “will be found on iOS, Android and sites like AT&T and Verizon.” Tafoya said, “We want people to see what's under the helmet. The way we pitch it to athletes is, 'There's all this information on you out there in the world. Shouldn't you take control of it and manage that brand correctly?'” (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/8).
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