Sources: Panini close to near-exclusive in college card market

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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 Follow him on Twitter @chrisolds2009.

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  1. Paul 20 November, 2014 at 00:17

    That’s a very sad new!!!

    I will maintain the same position but the Panini’s invasion is dangerous for the hobby.
    As they get an exclusive license with Colleges, UD will be dead cold soon (Hockey is not enough to maintain such a company).
    So what will be the future landscape of trading cards: Topps for Baseball (with Panini fighting to get more business), and Panini for everything else!!!

    That’s what you what??

    We should get back to multi licensed companies for EACH major sport like we had before!!!

  2. William Gareau 20 November, 2014 at 07:46

    Panini is clearly going after Upper Deck. My guess is that they will buy out Upper Deck in order to get their brand names (SP Authentic and Exquisite) and get their exclusive autograph contracts (Lebron and MJ). After that I doubt they will have the resources to go after Topps and baseball. Topps can also remain in football as long as they have a license with NFL properties. The NFL players association deal allows the use of players images without having to contract with each individual player. Topps can still get contracts with individual players (as part of an autograph deal) much in the same way that Panini is circumventing the broader collegiate licensing authority.

  3. Cherry 20 November, 2014 at 09:21

    I think any exclusive deal is bad. We as collector, well at least I do, love options. To have one company to make all of any sports products suck. There is enough of any hobby to go around. Further, I think it limits the growth of the hobby.

  4. johnnyrocksit 20 November, 2014 at 12:25

    Panini football is better than Upper Deck football. I am excited to see what they will be doing with the
    College football products. I just hope they put all of the Buckeye players in their sets. I hope to be able to buy
    Panini Exquisite with Lebron in it when they make it.

  5. Joseph 21 November, 2014 at 16:30

    Sad day. Panini is taking over the card collecting hobby and nothing good can come from that.

    Anyone who thinks this is good news is a fool or a shill.

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