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Volume 25 No. 45
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Roster Change: Nike, Not Under Armour, To Get MLB On-Field Rights

Nike is close to completing a deal for MLB’s on-field apparel rights. The swoosh will appear on MLB jerseys starting with the '20 season, with Nike getting on-field exposure and Fanatics delivering the retail versions of the apparel, including jerseys. These rights were originally awarded to Under Armour in '16, but that company’s recent financial problems made an on-field deal untenable. An industry source said that by not doing the deal, UA will save around $50M at a time when the brand's growth has slowed and its market cap shrunk dramatically. By shedding the MLB deal, UA can reduce overhead at a time when that looks to be paramount. The source said, “They were a different company when they did the deal. It’s just not affordable for Under Armour anymore." Fanatics declined comment.

DOTTING I's & CROSSING T's: Another source said that the MLB-Nike deal is 80% done, with a likely unveiling at or around the MLB All-Star Game in July. The deal increases Fanatics domination of licensed sports rights. With the new MLB pact, Fanatics will eventually control retail sales and distribution for MLB and NFL authentic (on-field) jerseys, as well as replica jerseys for all four big stick-and-ball leagues. For Nike, the deal means that by the '20 MLB season, it will have branding and the associated TV exposure on NBA, MLB and NFL uniforms.