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Sports-based Brands & Goods Score a Goal

By: Karina Masolova,

Retail sales of sports-based licensed merchandise grew 3.5% worldwide in 2016—and in the U.S./Canada, growth exceeded 4% to reach $15.4 billion in licensed retail sales. Soccer is one of the fastest-growing segments, growing over 10% year-over-year in retail sales.

Fanatics secures a $1 billion investment from Japanese SoftBank Group Corp.’s Masayoshi Son, Bloomberg reports. With the funds, the ecommerce company now aims to export the “American way of buying sports merchandise” worldwide. Fanatics’ international sales currently amount to approximately $200 million—and it is now targeting markets like the U.K. and China with the goal of quintupling annual sales to $10 billion over the next five years. International sales are expected to make up about a half of the company’s $10 billion target.

Fanatics seeks to open new manufacturing facilities in Germany and China in 2018, then in Japan and Australia in 2019. Local interest in Chinese soccer is expected to grow exponentially—Euromonitor estimates that attendance has increased over 10% a season, every season, since 2014. At that rate, attendance at Chinese Super League clubs would surpass that of the European Premier League’s by 2020.

Time Inc. launches OTT channel Sports Illustrated TV on Amazon Channels. The network debuts with a slate of 130 hours of on-demand programming, including original documentary series, weekly studio shows and acquired sports movies, documentaries and TV shows. The platform signed with Mike Tollin, co-chair of Mandalay Sports Media, and Jonathan Hock, for two different sports documentary projects slated for 2018.

The first soccer apparel brand dedicated to female players, Goal Five, launches. The performance and lifestyle collection is designed to celebrate the women of soccer, with 5% of profits being used to advance gender equality around the world. According to FIFA data, more than 30 million female athletes worldwide participate in organized soccer, with 15 million in the U.S. and Canada alone. Numbers are projected to reach 40 million worldwide by 2030.

Mattel releases its first hijab-wearing Barbie doll. The face of the doll is modeled on American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won a bronze medal in Rio last year and was the first U.S. woman to wear the Islamic headscarf while competing at the Olympics. The doll is decked out in full fencing gear including a mask, sabre, and training shoes.


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