Luka Doncic Signs EXCLUSIVE Panini Deal (How This Affects The Sports Card Hobby)
April 23, 20214 min read
April 22, 2021 Panini America announced the signing of Luka Doncic to an exclusive multi-year deal for autographs and memorabilia. Luka was signing autographs recently for Fanatics although that deal ended a few months ago.
According to the email newsletter “Autograph trading cards and memorabilia of Dončić, one of the most globally popular and collected young stars in the NBA, available now exclusively from Panini America and Panini Authentic.”
Let’s talk for a brief moment about why Panini did this move. Luka is the future of the NBA. Panini is synonymous with NBA trading cards. Panini is based in Dallas. From a marketing perspective this is a no brainer.
They will be able to conduct more signings with Luka since he will be local to them and technically probably save money on product since they won’t have to rely on anyone else to get the autographs and logistically much more convenient.
They must have had to pay a HUGE chunk of change for this deal. I am assuming Fanatics was in the running. Anytime you can outbid a billion-dollar company such as Fanatics you paid a big price.
They didn’t release the terms of the agreement but as you can imagine they paid a hefty price. I can imagine it is a multi-million dollar a year deal.
Given this news, how does this affect his sports card and autograph market?
Well, with the sports card market hopefully this will guarantee that he is signing all those autographs and not Lulu. Most likely going to see some new and unique cards, but that’s nothing new. Panini is always pushing the designs of their cards. Could we see a set dedicated just to Luka? Now that would be epic!
Big news though has to be will we see more Luka autographed cards now in Prizm and other sets? That I think is the big news for this deal. Card collectors and investors get a HUGE WIN if we start seeing those.
Let’s move on over to the autographed memorabilia market where the shakeup has some unfortunate negatives. As you know Luka signed with Fanatics the last few years. Hard to believe his autographed photos were about $150 at one point. Should have bought all of those. Reminds me of that time I was offered 72 Mike Trout MLB authenticated signed baseballs in 2012 for $45 each and passed on the deal. What a dummy.
Say what you want about Fanatics and the price they charge, they do in most cases offer a quality, officially licensed, authentic product signed by the world’s biggest superstars. That isn’t cheap to do. They have huge overhead and licensing agreements and pass those costs along to the consumer.
Panini is in the same boat. I do not see autograph pricing coming down. As of the making of this video there were no Luka products on Panini’s website and no information given in the email newsletter about the cost of products.
Fanatics for example was well over $1,000 for jerseys last I checked. However, there are no autographed products currently for sale on Fanatics website. Not sure if they have any product left over. Expect the Panini pricing to be at least that if not higher as Panini believes they are a premium, high-end autograph company, even more so than Fanatics.
Expect to see some unique and limited-edition inscriptions from Panini such as Luka Magic or Slovenian Slayer as they love adding those to their pieces.
Here is the big loss I think in this deal and that is for the autograph collectors. I have been fortunate enough to be able to participate in quite a few Fanatics private autograph signings over the past few years.
Fanatics has been offering out their exclusive signings to dealers like me so I can offer them out to you the customer. While Luka was never offered out as a send in autograph signing, there was always the possibility. Wow, could you imagine how crazy a Luka Doncic send in autograph signing would be? Just incredible. I would be so busy. Have to hire people just to help handle the orders.
With Panini, in my experience, they do not offer their exclusive guys out for send in autograph signings as much as Fanatics does. There was a Kevin Durant signing I took part in a few years ago, but nothing since then.
If that remains true, then the big loss in this deal is the autograph collector who potentially needed something specific signed for their collection.
Given Luka’s popularity there would be no reason to offer out a send in autograph signing. He is going to sell so well for them on the Panini website.
One thing to keep an eye on is how much Luka’s product ends up on the NBA’s website. Fanatics currently runs the website. Will they be able to buy wholesale from Panini and offer him on the NBA site? Time will tell. I am assuming they will make that happen since it would be a big loss for the NBA to not have Luka Doncic autographed items on the official NBA website.
Both of those companies are major competitors of each other. Interesting to see how that relationship unfolds.
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