Tag Archives: NBA

A Panini Monopoly

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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.

*Exhales*

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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Ads on NBA Jerseys

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The NBA jersey is not too far from being the newest and hottest advertising venue in sports. Many sources say that as the NBA negotiated for a new 9 year, $24 billion TV deal with TNT and ESPN,  the idea of putting ads on players’ jerseys received attention too.

The NBA has toyed with this idea in many forms over the years. In fact, the NBA has already put ads on practice jerseys and, last season, placed ads on the front and back of the Rookie and Sophomore Game jerseys.

However, it is still unclear how the revenue from the advertisement patches would be distributed. There is rumors that TV networks would get a significant slice of the money. In fact, some believe that when a team is on a nationally televised game, their jersey sponsor(s) would be required to also advertise during the game. That way networks don’t lose potential big advertisers who would otherwise decide to go with just the jerseys.

Here is something you might not have noticed this season… The NBA logoman is no longer on the front of the NBA jerseys. I’ll give you a minute to look it up because I didn’t believe it either when I heard about it for the first time. That NBA logoman has been moved to the top back where small team logos had previously dwelled. On the front, the upper left and right side of the players’ jerseys are now wide open real estate. One 2×2 inch patch on the left side is rumored to be the first step in NBA jersey ads. Commissioner Adam Silver thinks NBA teams, collectively, could generate $100 million by selling 30 patch sponsors each season (to begin, 1 sponsor per team). However, this sounds a bit too optimistic as English Premier League soccer teams made close to $184 million in sponsors last year and their corporate logos cover the entire front of their shirts. It’s hard to think the NBA would receive more than half that figure for their small, four square inch patches. Bigger ideas (and bigger ads) are already being discussed for special events though. It has been noted that TNT will be able to sell ad space on the jerseys for the 2017 All-Star Game.

In a world of sponsored All-Star events, sponsored replays, sponsored arenas, and  “The Official  __(Deodorant)__ of the  __(NBA)__” (and there is such a thing; it’s Right Guard), it was only a matter of time before we came to companies becoming, “The Official Sponsor of the Portland Trail Blazers.” If the NBA follows the international soccer and basketball precedent, it is only a few seasons until brand names or brand logos carry more visual weight than the actual team name on the front of jerseys. The question starts to become: Is the NBA going to become as ad-intensive as NASCAR??  Although some may question if the NBA is willing to go that far, no one is questioning the NBA for collecting millions upon millions of dollars while generating millions upon millions of impressions with this new, alternative income stream.

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