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Sports Licensing Heats Up, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

In late 2019, The National Football League Players Association, the Major League Baseball Players Association and RedBird Capital Partners LLC founded OneTeam Partners to manage the portrayal of player names, images and likenesses.  OneTeam not only helps players market themselves, but also invests revenue generated by that marketing into new business ventures.  The players associations earn tens of millions of dollars yearly from licensing deals with videogame publishers and trading card companies.  RedBird made an initial investment of $125 million in OneTeam and owns about a 40% stake in the firm.  The players associations own the remaining 60%.

SPOTLIGHT:  Fanatics, Inc.
Fanatics, Inc. is an online retailer of licensed sports merchandise.  Customers can purchase items via online sites through the Fanatics (, FansEdge (, Kitbag ( and Majestic ( brands.  The firm also offers a collection of sports collectibles and memorabilia through Fanatics Authentic (  Fanatics operates more than 300 online and offline partner stores, including the ecommerce business for all major professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, MLS, PGA, Premier League); major media brands (NBC Sports, CBS Sports, FOX Sports); and more than 200 collegiate and professional team properties.  In addition to ecommerce, the company’s capabilities include multichannel-integrated event and team retail across all leagues and major events such as Kentucky Derby, Ryder Cup and NHL’s Winder Classic. is an ecommerce platform for Canadian NFL fans.  Fanatics comprises an innovative vertical ecommerce business model that allows the company to quickly design, manufacture and distribute fan gear, jerseys, headwear and hardgoods.  Fanatics Betting and Gaming offers a global database for online sports betting and gaming.  Candy Digital by Fanatics is a next-generation digital collectibles company, bringing together digital artists, designers and technologists to develop a broad range of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).  Candy Digital’s immersive ecosystem allows fans and collectors to purchase, trade and share officially licensed NFTs.  Fanatics is headquartered in Florida, and is privately-owned by Kynetic, LLC.  The firm has other headquarter locations in California, USA; Manchester, U.K.; and Tokyo, Japan.  In January 2022, Fanatics acquired Topps’ trading cards and collectibles business, both the physical and digital divisions.

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