Fanatics has agreed a deal for Topps trading cards thought to be worth around $500m.
The fine detail of the agreement between Topps and sports eCommerce company Fanatics has not been made public, but industry sources put the deal at roughly $500m. The agreement includes only Topps’ name and sports and entertainment division, and excludes the company’s confectionery and gift cards line.
Fanatics won Major League Baseball’s trading card rights last August, although MLB’s deal with Topps, which was renewed in 2018, was not due to end until 2025. With this new agreement, however, Fanatics will obtain MLB’s trading card rights immediately.
The company will also obtain rights for Major League Soccer, UEFA, Bundesliga, and Formula 1, which all also have ongoing, active agreements with Topps.
Last year, Fanatics secured trading card licences for the National Football League Players Association and National Basketball Association. The company is said to be looking to expand its trading card business and increase direct-to-consumer commerce.
To ensure seamless ongoing operations, all of the approximately 350 global Topps sports & entertainment employees will become part of Fanatics Trading Cards. Current Topps Global VP, GM, David Leiner, and VP, GM Topps Digital, Tobin Lent, will continue to run Topps within Fanatics Trading Cards, a separate subsidiary of Fanatics. Both executives will report directly to Doug Mack, Fanatics Inc. vice chairman and Fanatics Commerce CEO.
The sports trading card business is currently booming and projected to reach $98.7b by 2027, according to Verified Market Research. As well as a boom in print cards caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, emerging online counterparts look set to further grow the market.
Fanatics says that the combined vision and distinct strengths of both Fanatics and Topps will improve the collector experience, while maintaining vital parts of the hobby. Via Fanatics, collectors would be able to purchase trading cards, then insure the asset, grade, store and even put cards on a marketplace to sell or trade, enhanced by Fanatics’ data-driven, direct-to-consumer expertise, which includes a database of more than 80m sports fans globally. Meanwhile, Topps’ world-class quality, product development and manufacturing capabilities, along with its commitment to collectors and hobby shops, will ensure products are more readily accessible, positively impacting current and future collectors and partners.
“With trading cards and collectibles being a significant pillar of our long-term plans to become the leading digital sports platform, we are excited to add a leading trading cards company to build out our business,” said Fanatics CEO, Michael Rubin. “Its iconic brand, commitment to product excellence and passionate employees worldwide will allow us to immediately serve our league and players’ association partners and our fans.”