A Panini Monopoly


Panini is the world’s number 1 company for sports cards, sports memorabilia, and sports collectibles. And Panini is doing everything to maintain and strengthen that prestigious title. Their latest effort? Panini announced earlier this week that it has reached an exclusive multi-year trading card agreement with The University of Texas.  This agreement will allow the company to use the school’s team logos and university marks in its trading card products for college-specific trading card sets.

Ready for a crash course on the sports card industry? *Takes a deep breathe*

Topps and Upper Deck are Panini’s 2 primary competitors, but long story short, they are both dwindling in market share. Topps, in the past, was producing MLB cards, NFL cards, and NBA cards. Now, they are down to only having rights to MLB cards and UFC cards. Upper Deck, in the past, was producing MLB cards, NFL cards, NBA cards, and NHL cards. Now, they only have rights to producing NHL cards, golf cards, and college cards. As for Panini, they are slowly working with professional leagues and looking to become the sole manufacturer and provider of every leagues’ cards. They have already secured the NBA, secured the FIFA World Cup, just secured the NFL, and have half the rights to the NHL (shared with Upper Deck). MLB is a tough one because Topps runs the show with that league’s cards, but Panini is creeping into that domain too.

To give an analogy, Panini is like Walmart. They have the most money and  they just buy their way in and slowly force everyone out who competes. They are the champions of the modern day business and will continue to be the future of the lucrative sports card and sports memorabilia  industry.


This University of Texas deal is part of a continued effort by Panini to secure exclusive partnerships with colleges so that Panini can pump out college-related products too. Why? Because Upper Deck is surviving mostly in thanks to their college card presence. If Panini locks up all the colleges, Upper Deck can’t use them for college related products anymore (Bye Bye Upper Deck!). The University of Texas is the latest school to sign on as an exclusive trading card partner of Panini, joining more than 225 other universities including Mississippi State (the #1 college football team at the moment), University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, Univeristy of Miami, Kansas State University, and Baylor University. Panini will begin producing collegiate trading card products in the spring of 2015 (Products about college football featuring ex-Heisman Trophy winners’ autographs, products on college basketball featuring autographs and game-used cards of All-American greats, etc.)

To summarize, sports cards aren’t as simple as they once were 20 years ago. They now include traits like autographs, jersey pieces, patches, sequential numbering, refactor finishes, and die-cut designs. If there is anything I want this article to prove, it’s that millions of dollars are being exchanged in relation to something so simple like sports cards. Although all these deals’ monetary figures are highly confidential, this type of news just proves that sports leagues and colleges are making outrageous amounts money in ways you never even thought of.


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