The National Football League and Panini America officially announced on Thursday that they have entered into a long-term agreement for Panini to become to exclusive producer of NFL & NFLPA-licensed trading cards and stickers. The deal takes effect in April 2016 before the 2016 NFL Draft.
“This announcement symbolizes a landmark achievement for Panini America, and we are extremely proud to be awarded the exclusive license for traditional trading cards and stickers,” said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop in a Panini press release. “We are committed to continue building compelling products that honor and celebrate the NFL and look forward to working closely with the NFL to continue to grow the football trading card category in the U.S. and globally.”
The agreement, which had been rumored for some time, will bring to an end the 60-year tradition of Topps producing licensed football cards. Topps will continue to create NFL-licensed digital trading cards for their Huddle app. Panini has also created a digital football card app called Gridiron.
“We are pleased to expand our partnership with Panini America in order to better serve NFL fans, from children opening their first packs to long-time hobby collectors,” said Leo Kane, Senior Vice President, Consumer Products, National Football League in a Panini press release. “Since entering the U.S. market in 2009, they have proven to be leaders in product development, innovation and marketing, and we look forward to working together to continue to grow the football trading card category.”
All four major sports in North America now have an exclusive trading card partner with Panini owning the rights to the NFL and NBA, Topps partnering with MLB and Upper Deck holding the exclusive NHL license.