Fanatics, the online sportswear and equipment retailer, is set to dominate the US sports trading cards market after agreeing an exclusive licence deal with basketball’s NBA and its players’ union just days after securing a similar deal with baseball’s MLB, it has been reported.
A Fanatics-founded company, which is yet to be named, will replace current licence-holder Panini when the sports collectibles and trading card company’s deal with the NBA and NBPA ends in 2026, according to The Athletic.
Panini has held the exclusive licence for NBA trading cards since 2009.
As part of the agreement, the NBA and NBPA will have equity in the joint venture with Fanatics.
The company already has a strong relationship with the NBA as it serves as the league's ecommerce partner as part of a long-standing association.
Just last week, it emerged that the retail giant agreed an exclusive licensing deal with MLB to produce trading cards and will replace Topps, ending the company’s 70-year relationship with the league when its present contract expires in 2025.
Topps has been a partner of MLB since 1952 and has been the only company authorised to produce MLB-licensed trading cards since 2010.
Similar to its tie-up with the NBA, Fanatics will give equity in its new trading card company to MLB and the MLBPA.
According to a MLBPA memo, the Fanatics deal is more than 10 times larger than any the union has ever agreed to and when combined with other recent deals, is expected to generate roughly $2 billion by 2045.
The ecommerce heavyweight was recently valued at $18 billion after it raised a further $325 million to expand into new sectors.
The Florida-based firm plans to focus on new areas and is seeking to enhance its presence in the gaming and sports betting market with the creation of a new division.
The loss of the MLB deal comes as a blow to Topps after it was planning to go public through a merger with Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corporation II, a special purpose acquisition company, in April.
Mudrick has now terminated the SPAC “by mutual agreement” after MLB opted to end its Topps deal.
The announcement for the Nasdaq-listed blank check company in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission came a day after news broke that the league will not renew the trading card agreement.
The SPAC merger valued Topps at $1.3 billion.
As a result, Topps last week confirmed it will remain a private company.