If you haven't been following the news in the sports card industry lately, you may not be aware of a significant development in the world of licensing, and it's a doozy.
Panini, the exclusively licensed card manufacturer for the NFL and NBA recently had it's licensing pulled by the NFLPA effective immediately. Essentially, the blanket license that Panini had to produce cards with the names and likenesses of NFL players has been revoked, although Panini retains the rights to the team logos and names.
Fanatics, the enormous sports accessory and clothing manufacturer, has already secured the future license to those team names and logos but that does not take effect for a few more years. Fanatics has already purchased Topps, so it's expected that Topps NFL cards will be in the near future, but Fanatics now has the NFLPA player licensing immediately. Fanatics has also already obtained future exclusive licensing for NBA sports cards but that is not as immediately pressing an issue.
So what does all this mean? No one is 100% sure just yet. Panini has already printed and will release a few NFL products, and they do have individual agreements with over 300 NFL and future NFL players, so it seems like Panini will still produce football in some capacity. Fanatics can immediately produce cards with player names and likenesses but, can't include a team name or logo.
These 'unaffiliated' cards are not new, Panini produces Prizm for MLB right now, and they simply photoshop out the team logos and use a city name instead of a team name, so Fanatics may go that route in the very near future.
Finally, how does all of this affect Hit Box and our customers? Well it's hard to say exactly since we don't know what products will be brought to market. What is happening right now is a significant increase in pricing pressure on existing and future Panini football cards.
For instance, our release pricing on Luminance went up by 49% between initial allocation and current pricing. Even older products like 2021 Playoff have seen 20% price bumps overnight. To be clear these are distributor prices, retail pricing increases are the same or worse.
We are facing a possibly crunch on supply, drastically rising prices, and uncertain future availability. We are already carrying Topps products for MLB so as soon as NFL products are released we will be bringing them to you, but the current changes to costs can't be ignored.
What we will not do is reduce the value of the packs in your Hit Boxes. This is our promise and our agreement with you as customer, and the option is not on the table at all. In order to maintain pack value, we may have to suspend or reduce the minimum number of packs in Rookie, Veteran and All-Star boxes. Right now we guarantee five, seven and eight packs respectively and we expect this continue, but we will notify customers at the time of pack list release if any box does not meet this target. Multisport boxes that include Football as a selected sport would be similarly affected.
We do not take this situation lightly, and we don't anticipate any immediate need to implement this, but in the interest of fairness and transparency we wanted to address this before taking any action. As always, your feedback is critical to us and we value any input you have to offer.
Dave @ Hit Box