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The Biggest Sports Card Buy Ever. How Fanatics Deal Affects Upper Deck & Why You Must R-E-L-A-X

August 20, 2021 4 min read

The Biggest Sports Card Buy Ever. How Fanatics Deal Affects Upper Deck & Why You Must R-E-L-A-X

Fanatics has agreed to be the exclusive license holder with MLB and the MLB Players association to produce sports cards and a potential one on the way with the NFL and NBA.

I’m going to keep this video brief; nobody has time to hear the same information over and over again.  If you want more details on the deal there are plenty of articles out there to read on it.

Here’s what we are going to talk about today.

  • Why we need to calm the heck down.
  • How does this affect Upper Deck?
  • Future of Topps and Sports Card hobby.


#1 Calm down.

There is no need to get in a frenzy and start panicking about what’s going to happen to Topps and Panini and the sports card market in general.  In the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X.  Take a big deep breath.  There is nothing you need to do today.  You don’t need to start buying Topps sealed wax.  You don’t need to start buying up every Topps rookie card you see.  Chill out.  Let’s see how this deal plays out.

So many Fanatics haters out there too.  They wouldn’t be as successful as they are without having great systems in place for quality control and customer service.  They are worth 18 billion dollars.  They know what are they doing.

I’ve been working with Fanatics for almost 8 years.  Yes, they can be expensive.  But for me the telling part about how good a company is, is what do they do when a mistake happens.  How do they respond?  In my experience and the occasional issues with them over the years they always step up and do what’s right. 

We don’t even know if Fanatics will be printing cards or doing it under some other brand.  We have so little details at this stage so the best thing to do is nothing and just enjoy the craziness of others.  I thought I was watching Bobby Knight make those game faces watching everyone talk about this deal.

I do know that Fanatics has proven itself to the NFL, NBA, and MLB over the years as a solid licensee holder and manufacturer of their products.  They know what they are doing and know how to make a quality product.  Let’s give them a chance and see how it goes when this deal starts in a few years.  As I have mentioned on previous videos, having 1 licensee holder is the way to go for the leagues.  Easy to manage.


#2 How does this affect Upper Deck?

If you haven’t had a chance to go watch Patrick Ryan’s IG live video from 8/19 @thepryancollection I would definitely go watch that.  Some of this info I am going to piggyback from him as I think he brings up a few solid points.

Upper Deck has exclusive autograph deals with guys like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, and Wayne Gretzky.  Big time names.  The biggest in their respective sports.

Upper Deck would be a wise purchase for Fanatics to gain access to all of those athletes.  For the card market it would be tremendous as Jordan and LeBron autographed cards could be inserted into packs again, should Fanatics get the NBA license.  The Exquisite brand could come back.   

It would be a relatively cheap purchase for Fanatics I would imagine but with tremendous upside.  They would also be able to offer more autographed merchandise from the Upper Deck exclusive athletes and make their own Fanatics style autographed items.

They would also gain access to the NHL license that Upper Deck currently holds to make cards.  Giving Fanatics the ability to make cards for all 4 sports.  I know hockey cards aren’t as sexy as the other 3 sports but hockey is still very relevant in the United States and Canada.

Upper Deck currently sits in a pretty strong position.


#3 How should Topps respond?

Topps I am assuming has known this was coming since they were given an opportunity to match the offer Fanatics made.   I’m assuming they have been making some plays behind the scenes.  What those are I have no idea and I am not going to speculate and waste your time.

Let’s not forget, Topps has plenty of other revenue streams with UEFA Champions League, Star Wars, Formula 1, and other entertainment brands. 

While they will certainly take a hit financially from losing the MLB license, Topps isn’t done.  Everyone calm down, Topps isn’t going anywhere.  Might they be purchased by someone bigger than them?  Who knows.  But the Topps brand name has tremendous value.  They have made baseball cards for 70 year now.  

I really don’t think this is panic time for Topps.  Fanatics is valued at 18 x more than them.   Hard to fault Topps at losing to them on a licensing deal.

Topps just has to continue to do what is working for them.  Their revenue was up almost 80% this year.  Losing MLB license is a big blow, but this may open some doors for Topps to move into other areas.  Change is hard but, in most cases, if change is taken as a challenge it can turn into a huge positive influence on a business. 

I can’t tell you how many times I have had to change the products I sell, or the ways I sell it, or how I sell it.  Business is always changing.  Every month is different.  As the old saying goes, you have to live life like a loose garment, just go with where the flow takes you.  Companies that are innovative and open to new business ideas almost always make a comeback.


As our friends @cherrycollectables said on Instagram, what does all this mean for the future of sports cards?  Too early to tell.  But when a billion-dollar company takes over the industry, that means there will be a future for sports cards.  The hobby isn’t going anywhere.

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