Fanatics and WWE announce long term sports and entertainment partnership
WWE and Fanatics have announced a multi-business, long-term sports and entertainment partnership that will see Fanatics take over the WWE’s e-commerce operations, manufacture new apparel and merchandise, and create physical, digital and non-fungible token (NFT) trading cards.
The businesses that will work together to showcase the WWE for its global fanbase include Fanatics Commerce, Fanatics Collectibles and Candy Digital.
The deal represents Fanatics using the collective strength of its multiple businesses to win a major deal with a successful entertainment organization. Fanatics continue to expand into more corners of the sports entertainment industry as it bids to turn itself into an all-in-one sports fan experience company.
The sports retail giant has been expanding its portfolio of acquisitions and partnerships for a number of years, and was valued at $27 billion in a recent funding round.
“Fanatics is the industry leader and Michael Rubin is a visionary,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “We believe this multi-platform partnership will set a new standard for WWE e-commerce, apparel and merchandise, while providing our fans globally with more ways than ever to engage with WWE and our Superstars.”
The Fanatics Commerce business will take over WWE’s in-house US and European online retail sales as Fanatics does for a myriad of professional and collegiate teams, leagues and organizations. This summer Fanatics will look to introduce a new e-commerce and mobile destination, WWE Shop, giving fans around the world access to an assortment of WWE merchandise including apparel, title belts, headwear, accessories and more.
Topps, which was bought by Fanatics in January and which first produced WWE cards and stickers in 2005, lost the rights last year to Panini America whose deal is reported to only be for a couple of years. The WWE card rights will be coming back to Topps although it's unclear when the Topps wrestling cards will be available for retail.
Candy is a digital collectible company producing and offering digital assets for fans and collectors, co-owned by Fanatics CEO Micael Rubin, will produce WWE NFT’s later this year in a bid to capitalize on the digital collectible trend. Unlike the trading card deal, WWE’s NFT deal isn’t exclusive to Fanatics.
“WWE is one of the most widely admired sports and entertainment properties worldwide, and it makes sense to activate many parts of our Fanatics global platform to create a first-of-its-kind, all-in fan experience,” added Fanatics CEO Micael Rubin. “From e-commerce and licensed merchandise to trading cards and more, we’re going to offer up an incredible set of capabilities to help WWE’s passionate fans worldwide celebrate their favorite Superstars, marquee events and the WWE brand overall.”
The announcement comes days ahead of WrestleMania 38, set for April 2-3 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.