Sources: Panini close to near-exclusive in college card market
By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor | Analysis
The changes coming to the college trading card landscape in 2015 are going to be even more dramatic than anticipated, according to industry sources.
Panini America‘s wave of new deals signed with top schools in the last few weeks has reportedly gotten even larger. Industry sources tell Beckett Media that nearly all of the country’s 60-plus major colleges and universities — and nearly 300 schools in total — have signed multi-year deals with Panini, positioning the Dallas-based manufacturer to operate under a near-exclusive in the college-card market for the rest of the decade. That expansion would effectively end any broad collegiate engagement for Upper Deck, which has held an exclusive Collegiate Licensing Company license for the past five years.
The college card market is a significant business. According to the CLC, more than $4.59 billion in overall licensed college goods were sold last year, while Upper Deck ranked 19th on the CLC’s Top 25 non-apparel licensees list as the sole card-maker.
Panini’s push for the collegiate business — at least publicly — began Oct. 23 when Panini announced deals with Kentucky, Georgia and Miami. Additional announcements included more than 220 schools through a deal with the Licensing Resource Group announced earlier this month, as well as additional deals with Mississippi State, Baylor, NC State and Kansas State. A critical step for Panini, according to multiple sources: Last week’s signing announcement with the University of Texas Longhorns, the top-selling CLC school.
Beckett Media has calls into CLC Vice President of Non-Apparel Marketing David Kirkpatrick and multiple team members at both Upper Deck and Panini; we will update throughout the day.
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @chrisolds2009.