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Three Key Executives Join BLM Licensing

ViacomCBS’ Simta Sawhney, Fashion UK’s Hannah Miles and Ravina Mehta Have Joined Saphia Maxamed on the BLM Licensing Initiative. The mission to help Black Lives Matter control its own narrative got a massive boost in the UK as three veteran licensing executives have volunteered to join the Black Lives Matter Licensing Committee, headed by Saphia Maxamed, president of London Entertainment Inc. As first reported by Licensing Source, Simta Sawhney, category director at ViacomCBS Consumer Products UK; Hannah Miles, managing director of Fashion UK; and Ravina Mehta, graphic designer at BB Designs, have joined the BLM Licensing committee to represent the licensing industry and help shape the direction of BLM’s initiatives to promote inclusiveness and implement societal change. “I am thrilled with the support the industry has shown so far,” said Maxamed…. . . . read more

Fanattik Adds Magic to Collection in Hasbro Partnership

Gifts and Collectibles Being Developed For Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering Collectibles company Fanattik has partnered with Hasbro on a new line of products for its wildly popular games Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. As reported this past week by The Licensing Letter, those two franchises saw massive sales growth during the pandemic, as the major revenue sources for Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming segment, which accounted for an astounding 75% of Hasbro’s profits. Together, those two games contributed $365.3 million to Hasbro’s bottom line in Q1 alone. The Fanattik’s team says it will be working with Hasbro’s  will work with the brands to develop pop culture focused gifts and collectables including money boxes, clocks, gifts, and more. “You can’t get much bigger than… . . . read more

Writers Form #DisneyMustPay Task Force In Royalty Dispute

Disney has been getting back into the publishing business in a big way in recent years, but the acquisition of several publishing houses has also brought some headaches in the form of writers who say they are owed unpaid royalties. Half a dozen writers’ organizations have joined the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in forming the task force, which is demanding the Walt Disney Company pay all royalties owed to authors. Disney says it is working to resolve the situation, which arose after it acquired a number of publishing companies, with a spokesperson saying the company “continues to work directly with agents and authors to resolve any issues or any outstanding payments. We are carefully reviewing whether any royalty payments may have been missed as a result… . . . read more

Wizards Of The Coast Leads Hasbro Revenue Segments

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief A lot of people still think of Hasbro primarily as a toy company, but the firm’s financial results tell a different story. As of Hasbro’s Q1 financial results, Hasbro is now a broader entertainment and play company, with a strong accent on gaming through its Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming segment, which generated 75 per cent of the company’s operating profit in Q1. WOTC is primarily made up of the wildly popular gaming franchises Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons.  This is also the first time Hasbro has reported its income after restructuring its operating divisions, making direct comparisons with previous financial reports more difficult. However, that restructuring of its business units happened precisely because the nature of Hasbro’s business… . . . read more

Hasbro Selling eOne Music Division

Major news from toy and entertainment giant Hasbro Inc., which says it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Entertainment One Music (“eOne Music”) for an aggregate price of US$385 million in cash. The transaction has been approved by the Board of Directors of Hasbro and Entertainment One Canada Limited, and is subject to customary closing conditions and receipt of regulatory approvals. Hasbro says eOne Music will be acquired by entities controlled by Blackstone, which also owns SESAC, a leading music rights organization. Subsequent to the closing of the transaction, eOne Music will operate as a separate business unit headed by its current Global President, music industry veteran Chris Taylor, and will focus on building a creator-first music brand with global scale and expertise. Purchased by Hasbro in 2019 as… . . . read more

Last Chance To Have Your Say in TLL Licensing Survey

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief Every year, The Licensing Letter surveys leaders in the licensing industry from our database of 30,000+ licensing agencies, licensors, product licensees and licensing professionals. The resulting data is then used to create our Special Reports that have been keeping our readers informed since 1978; the longest running database in the industry. Right now we’re hitting the deadline on our current survey, which covers off licensing sales and revenue in 2020, and how licensing professionals feel the industry will go in 2021 and beyond. With the impact of the COVID-19 on our industry, this data has never been more vital. If you haven’t done so already, we’re asking that our readers take five to 10 minutes to FILL OUT THE SURVEY AT THIS LINK. The… . . . read more

Key Indicators Point to Strong Recovery in Licensing and Retail

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief Yeah, it’s been a tough couple of years for the licensing industry, and the grind through the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, but there are encouraging signs that a full recovery is right around the corner. One of those indicators is the soaring numbers for retail sales in March, after an extremely disappointing February. The US Commerce Department says a resurgence in COVID infections in February saw retail sales decline by 2.7 per cent, which was more than analysts had predicted. However, in March, as the US government posted a faster than expected vaccination rate and Americans received their stimulus cheques, those sales numbers reversed. The Commerce Departments says retail sales soared by a seasonally adjusted 9.8 per cent in March compared to… . . . read more

Paris Olympics Releases Calls for Interest in Licensing Program

Let the Licensing Games Begin! The Paris 2024 Olympics has begun releasing calls for interest in its official licensing programs for both the Olympics and the Paralympic Games. The Paris 2024 committee expects to sign agreements with roughly 60 companies to develop an expected 10,000 branded products for the Games. The committee’s Chief Commercial Officer, Marlene Masure, says organizers are seeking companies with deep expertise in branding, production and distribution to support the creation of a wide range of products for the Games. “With four billion viewers, 13.5 million tickets sold and 50,000 volunteers, millions of us will share the experiences and emotions of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024, whether in the stadiums or at home with family and friends,” Masure said in a statement to the press. “But… . . . read more

Topps Going Public in $1.3 Billion SPAC Deal

The venerable collectibles company  Topps Co. has announced it is going public through a merger with a ‘blank cheque firm’ in a deal that values the combined company at $1.3 billion. Michael D. Eisner, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Disney and Chairman of The Topps Company, will become Chairman of the combined company’s board of directors. The combined company will continue to be led by Michael Brandstaedter, President and Chief Executive Officer of Topps. “The strong emotional connection between the Topps brand and consumers of all ages is truly foundational, and, when combined with our growing portfolio of strategic licensing partnerships, creates a profitable business model with meaningful competitive advantages,” said Eisner. “Equally important, the management team at the helm of Topps, which we’ve been building for the… . . . read more

Special Report: The Downside of NFTs

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief If you’re like me, you’ve likely been reading about the recent NFT craze and wondering if these ‘Non-Fungible Tokens’ will be used in the licensing industry as a means to establish intellectual property ownership and licensing rights. The answer is both yes … and maybe no. Most of the news about NFTs over the past month has focused on the use of blockchain technology in the area of ‘rare’ collectibles. A variety of companies have been using and selling NFTs to establish someone’s ownership of a digital property, and to create an aura of ‘scarcity’ around that collectible. The most startling example to date is the sale for $69.3 million of a digital art collage by an artist known as Beeple, purchased by… . . . read more