Panini ousted as Fanatics swoops in for groundbreaking NBA card deal
Last week, the entire card industry was shaken to its core when news about Topps‘ exclusive licensing deal was going to transfer to Fanatics Inc. in 2026. After a 70-year reign as the undisputed baseball card company, the former is on its way out while the latter is definitely on the rise.
As it turns out, Fanatics isn’t done at all:
Licensed sports giant Fanatics has reached a deal with the NBA and NBPA to replace Panini in 2026 for exclusive license to produce basketball cards – giving equity to players and league in the new trading cards venture.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 23, 2021
As noted by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the NBA and NBPA have reached a deal with Fanatics to exclusively produce basketball cards. This agreement will take effect in 2026, the year in which Panini’s existing deal with the NBA will end.
In the same tweet, Charania added that this move will provide equity to the league and its players as they venture into the sports card scene. With the whole industry on the rise, a lot of revenue will certainly be generated in this manner.
Along with the NBA and MLB, the NFL is set to be up next. This is fairly reasonable as Panini’s current deal with the particular league is about to end in 2026, the same year their agreement with the NBA will also come to a close.
As of now, there isn’t any formal statement from Fanatics, the NBA, or even Panini. But while the wait for such news is ongoing, the potential effects of this deal are massive for the hobby. For one, Fanatics is about to be the sole producer of trading cards for the three major sports leagues in the world right now. With the surge in value of sports cards during the past year or so, this will place them in a position to earn a lot of money down the line.
Collectors and investors alike should keep a close eye on this given it could potentially change the landscape of the hobby. Whether it’s for the good or the bad, only time will tell now.