NFLPA Grants Panini Exclusive Trading Card License, Continuing One-Partner Trend
NFL Players Inc. and Panini America announced Thursday that they have entered into an exclusive long-term agreement that will make Panini America the sole manufacturer of NFLPA-licensed trading cards and collectible stickers, beginning with the '16 NFL season. Panini has exclusive deals with NFLPI, NBA and FIFA World Cup (NFLPA). ESPN.com's Darren Rovell noted the deal will "further consolidate the sports card market." Topps currently is "the sole licensee" of MLB cards, and Upper Deck "maintains exclusive rights to NHL trading cards." Panini America CEO Mark Warsop said that he "believes the football card market topped the baseball card market for the first time" in '12 and "will do so again" in '14. Panini and Topps under the previous deal with the NFL were "allowed to have 17 releases a year." Warsop said that the new exclusive deal "would allow them to expand their number of offerings as well as participate in out-of-the-box ideas that the company couldn't do in a competitive environment." Warsop: "I want to get kids back to collecting sets again. And if that means that we could have a product whose packs sell for 50 cents, and make no money on it, to grow the category, we can now do that." NFLPI President Keith Gordon said that the time "was right to go down to one partner." Gordon: "We're the last of the leagues to do this and we feel like, after a correction from consolidation, the business will grow" (ESPN.com, 7/31). See the full business portfolio of Panini America at Resource Guide LIVE.