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SBD/June 16, 2015/Marketing and Sponsorship
Fanatics Signs Unprecedented 17-Year Deal To Run MLB's Online Licensed-Product Business
Published June 16, 2015
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NEW PATH: Across sports licensing, properties have been looking for new models, seeking to grow in a business starved for better margins. New "vertical" models are being explored, where a licensor would assume or share some of the risks -- and potentially enjoy the upside -- associated with manufacturing and warehousing licensed sports products. A source said the MLB-Fanatics deal has a "vertical component" involving apparel rights, but would not offer details. Sources said that Fanatics, which also operates e-commerce for the NFL, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, PGA Tour and hundreds of team sites, has been pitching deals of a similar size, scope and length to nearly every large league this year. However, this is the first one to be consummated. What will effectively be an outsourcing of some of MLB's licensing department comes as part of the new regime under MLB President of Business & Media Bob Bowman, and also comes after the dismissal in February of MLB Senior VP/Licensing Howard Smith, who headed league licensing for 17 years.