SBD/February 28, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Ripping A One-Timer: NHL, NHLPA Sign Exclusive Trading Card Deal With Upper Deck

The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to terms with Upper Deck on a multiyear agreement to be the league's exclusive trading card partner beginning with the '14-15 season. Upper Deck has produced NHL cards since '90 and previously held an exclusive deal from '04-10. The company and Panini America currently are the league's two licensed card manufacturers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed (NHLPA). BECKETT.com's Susan Lulgjuraj reported one of the biggest reasons for a league to go to an exclusive deal is that "handling one company is easier than dealing with multiple entities." It cuts the "maintenance in half while still maintaining an acceptable level on cards." However, the NHL and NHLPA "likely wouldn't cut into their revenue by 50 percent by eliminating one of their partners." One main concern about an exclusive partnership is that it "creates contentment for any one company." NHLPA Dir of Licensing Adam Larry said that such a concern was "considered when looking at an exclusive agreement" and the union "spoke to many partners about it." But Larry said, "If you really know the people at Upper Deck, I think they are their own biggest competitors. They are striving to produce the best possible product for collectors. I don't see them sitting on their laurels. If they don't put out great product, people won't buy it" (BECKETT.com, 2/27).
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