SBJ/Nov. 20-26, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

Fanatics locks up more shelf space for NHL licensed goods

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ontinuing to lock up the most significant sports licensing rights in North America, Fanatics has extended its omnibus NHL rights deal to 2034, adding even broader rights to a deal that already included replica jerseys and championship apparel. If you thought Fanatics already had a stranglehold on NHL apparel rights — and we did — now it’s even more so.

Under the new deal, Fanatics gets additional broad exclusives, including worldwide e-commerce rights, excluding China. It also has rights to manufacture, market and sell all of the NHL’s top-shelf “Center Ice” collection, including name and number apparel, with the exception of authentic (on-ice) NHL jerseys. Those will continue to be marketed and sold by Adidas, which put its trademark on them starting this season. Previously, Adidas had the rights for all of the Center Ice line.

The new agreement also grants Fanatics headwear exclusivity within the sporting goods retail channel. Basically, this means Fanatics has locked up most of the shelf space for NHL-licensed gear within sports specialty retail in North America, particularly since it started manufacturing and selling Fanatics-branded replica NHL jerseys this season.

Fanatics has rights to all of the NHL’s “Center Ice” collection.
GETTY IMAGES
Adidas relinquishing those rights continues a trend among sports performance apparel brands, which have shifted from actually competing in the sports-licensed apparel business to leasing pro and college sports trademarks solely for camera exposure.

“The way the [licensing] industry is changing, you need speed-to-market above everything, and that is not something that the sneaker brands have,” said a marketer familiar with the longtime NHL licensing czar.

Brian Jennings, NHL executive vice president of marketing, referred email inquiries on the deal to PR. After initially promising an interview, an NHL spokeswoman subsequently said the league was “going to take a pass” on commenting.

ROGER THAT: Sources tell us that the Rogers Centre, which has been the Toronto Blue Jays’ home since 1989 when it opened as SkyDome, will put its naming rights on the market next year.

A number of factors make that intriguing to anyone tracking the naming-rights business. Primarily, there’s the record 20-year, $800 million deal cut last summer for what’s now the Air Canada Centre but will be Scotiabank Arena as of July 1. Surely, that’s the comp everyone in naming rights is looking at, but can any venue, much less a neighboring one, come close to matching that record?

As was the case with the NBA Raptors and the NHL Maple Leafs in Air Canada Centre, it’s a national play, since Blue Jays games are televised across Canada. Sources said it was uncertain if the sales effort will be performed internally or with the help of an outside agency.

Additionally intriguing sidelights: At a time when there’s more naming-rights inventory for sale across North America than ever, how much can name No. 3 fetch? Similar to the situation in Washington, D.C., with Monumental Sports, Rogers owns the Blue Jays and their home stadium, so any revenue will be incremental. RBC, which lost to Scotiabank in a bid to grab the rights to Air Canada Centre, is a likely suspect.

> COMINGS & GOINGS: Ronalee Zarate-Bayani joins the Los Angeles Rams as chief marketing officer after three years at Hershey. She’s also worked at Visa and Taco Bell. … Stephen Chriss, head of North American marketing activation and strategic partnerships, leaves Mondelez after 19 years to join Pinnacle Foods as vice president, activation, starting this month.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.


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