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Fanatics Partners With NFL and Amazon In Major Strategic Shift

By Gary Symons

TLL Editor in Chief

Amazon is the dominant force in the Western world when it comes to ecommerce, with the one exception of pro-sports branded sports gear and memorabilia, and that’s because the market is largely cornered by Fanatics.

Now, that may be changing due to a game changing new partnership between the National Football League, Fanatics, and Amazon. The NFL is now bringing thousands of its officially licensed products to the ecommerce site in a move that could permanently transform the market for sports fan products.

The partnership does not exclude Fanatics, which is part of the three-way collaboration that will see Fanatics opening an NFL Shop storefront on Amazon’s website. Starting on Wednesday, March 31, the NFL will bring the first of thousands of branded products onto the site, from replica jerseys to hats, apparel, and products aimed at tailgate parties. Brands available will include NFL Pro Line, Fanatics, New Era and Outerstuff, but will not include products from Nike, which pulled its products from Amazon in 2019.

At the time of writing it’s still unclear if this is a long-term partnership or a pilot project, similar to the one Nike embarked on in 2017 and ended in 2019. However, Amazon is obviously very happy to be getting its foot in a very lucrative door. “Amazon continues to collaborate with the NFL to enhance our customer experience,” Amazon said in a statement, “and we look forward to expanding our assortment of NFL products.”

One hint that the relationship may be long term, however, comes from the series of media deals the NFL has signed in recent weeks, worth a reported $105 billion. While the NFL extended its partnerships with traditional TV partners, it also expanded its streaming deal with Amazon, and signed over exclusive rights to air the Thursday night games. Amazon will pay the NFL $1.32 billion under that agreement, so the extension of product sales may be a side arrangement that helped close the deal.

Prior to this agreement Fanatics had largely cornered the sport fan sector, thanks to recent key acquisitions that led the company to an impressive valuation of $12.8 billion in a recent round of funding this month. Like the NFL, Fanatics did not previously sell its merchandise on Amazon, making this a new business strategy for the company. Fanatics role will be to operate the NFL Shop.

Financial terms of the deal have not been released.

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