WWE has reportedly ended their partnership with The Panini Group, a trading card giant and industry leader with a 60 year history in sports & entertainment collectibles.
WWE and Panini announced a landmark deal in October 2021, to begin in the first quarter of 2022. However, a new report from sports business reporter Darren Rovell notes that WWE terminated the deal for breach of contract two weeks ago.
There were still more than two years left on the WWE – Panini deal. It was noted that Panini is still selling WWE products, so WWE is planning to seek an injunction as they say Panini is now in violation of terms.
Fanatics is expected to receive rights to WWE trading cards and collectible stickers immediately as they already had a deal starting in 2026 when the Panini deal ran out.
WWE President Nick Khan touted the Panini deal during the 2021 Q3 earnings call on November 4, 2021, noting that the trading card industry was booming. Khan also revealed that WWE received several bids from card companies but Panini’s offer was a significant step up from their deal with Topps. The partnership was also touted in the Q4 & Full Year 2021 earnings release on February 3, 2022. During the 2022 Q2 earnings call on August 16, 2022, Khan announced that WWE had exceeded the full year performance for trading cards with Panini, and that more cards were to be released later that year. Then-WWE Chairwoman & Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon also touted Panini during the 2022 Q3 earnings call on November 2, 2022, noting that the Panini partnership was delivering above what was planned. Finally, Khan touted Panini during the Q4 & Full Year 2022 earnings call on February 2 of this year, noting that the trading card business continued to deliver healthy results. Khan also revealed that Panini had seven product drops in 2022, which led to record annual revenue for WWE’s trading card business.
WWE and The Panini Group announced a new multi-year deal in October 2021, which made Panini the exclusive trading card and collectible sticker partner of WWE. In what was billed as a landmark agreement that began in the first quarter of 2022, Bloomberg reported that the deal was worth at least $10 million. This is more than three times the average annual value of WWE’s deal with Topps, which was set to expire and end a working relationship that began in 1985. It was also said that the significant price increase for WWE at that time was indicative of a red-hot trading card market and the leverage they held in negotiations.
WWE and Fanatics announced a comprehensive, long-term sports and entertainment partnership in March 2022, which would see Fanatics take control of WWE’s e-commerce, licensed merchandise, as well as physical, digital and NFT trading cards. This included a re-launch of WWE Shop, which has been rocky at times. It was then announced this past April that WWE and Fanatics were expanding their existing long-term sports and entertainment partnership to make Fanatics assume operations of WWE’s global live event merchandise business.
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