12 Part Blog Description

Are you looking to learn as much as you can about the business of sports licensing? Then please read the 12 Part "An Insider's Guide to the World of Licensed Sports Products in 12 Parts: Practical Lessons from the Trenches" - all 12 parts of the blog can be found within this site. Click here to start with the Introduction.

Monday, December 9, 2019

List of NBA Licensees as of 2020 and a bit of a look back in time


Here we are – 2020 – and if you are trying to find out what companies are licensed to make products for the NBA, you have come to the right place.


Allow me to offer a bit of background…

Eight years have passed since 2012 when I launched a searchable Online Directory of 2500+ North American Licensed Sports Products Companies – LicensedSports.net. This is a highly searchable directory of licensed sports products companies in North America. There are companies that have been licensed by various sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, MLS, NASCAR, NFLPA, MLBPA, NHLPA and others). You can search by licenses held, product categories, by city or state or country of the licensee, and many other searchable fields. Virtually every company record has addresses, phone numbers, websites, contact names, titles, email addresses, Linkedin url’s, etc.  It costs just $59 to use the database for three months. There is nowhere else on the internet that you can find this info – it just doesn’t exist anywhere else. And I update the database weekly, sometimes daily. So if you need details about the companies licensed by the NBA, please sign up – it’s just $59 for three months. If you're not sure if this database would be worth the investment, check out this 3-minute video that gives you a sense of what to expect.

So while I encourage you to subscribe to the actual online directory to get up-to-date (and far more detailed) information, here is a snapshot of the 181 current NBA licensees in the database as of 2020.

January 2020
List of NBA / National Basketball Association Licensees
1 - 2K Sports / Take Two Interactive Software Inc. / T2
2 - Active Dreamers
3 - adidas America / Reebok (Sports Licensed Division)
4 - Alleson Athletic- a div of Founder Sport Group
5 - Aluminati Skateboards- a division of Frontier Aluminum
6 - Americus Diamond
7 - Amicus Publishing
8 - Aminco USA / Aminco International
9 - Amscan Inc. / Amscan Holdings
10 - The Antigua Group
11 - Applied Icon
12 - Authentic Street Signs
13 - Baby Fanatic
14 - Basic Fun - formerly Good Stuff / Win Stuff / The Bridge Direct
15 - bathletics- a division of LaBottega
16 - Bauerfeind Medical
17 - Bensussen Deutsch & Associates / BDA
18 - BIC Inc. / Bic USA
19 - Bleacher Creatures / Uncanny Brands / Phenom Gallery
20 - Bling it On by Titana / Titania Bling
21 - Boelter Brands
22 - The Bradford Exchange Ltd.
23 - Branded Custom Sportswear Inc. / BCS - Nike
24 - Branded Logistics
25 - BT Swim / Blue Torrent
26 - Build A Bear Retail Management Inc.
27 - Bulletin / Tricot Mondial Inc.
28 - Camelot Fabrics
29 - Care + Wear
30 - Columbia Sportswear by OCS / Outdoor Custom Sportswear
31 - Concepts Sport
32 - Converse
33 - Creative Apparel Concepts Inc.
34 - Cufflinks
35 - Curriculum Associates
36 - Dapper Labs - NBA Top Shot / Axiom Zen
37 - Designs by Chad & Jake
38 - Disruptive Media Publishers Inc.
39 - DMA United / Westbrook Frames
40 - DRKBLU
41 - EA Sports - Electronic Arts
42 - Eagles Wings
43 - The Emblem Source
44 - Enterbay USA
45 - Express
46 - Fabrique Innovations / Sykel / Scrub Dudz / Collegiate Snuggie
47 - Fan Brander
48 - Fanatics - TeamFanShop - FansEdge - divisions of Kynetic
49 - Fanatics Authentic / Mounted Memories
50 - Fanatics Brands / Fanatics Apparel / Let Loose By Fanatics Apparel / Fanatics Licensed Sports Group
51 - Fanatics Majestic Athletic Co. / VF and VFC / VF Licensed Sports Group
52 - FanDuel
53 - FatHead- LLC
54 - FISLL- a division of H & H Legacy- LLC
55 - Fliips
56 - Forever Collectibles / FOCO / Team Beans
57 - Forty Seven Brand / Twins '47 Headwear/ Banner '47 Apparel
58 - From The Bench Games
59 - Funko
60 - G-III Apparel / G-III Leather Fashions Inc. / G-III Sports by Carl Banks / 58 Sport / Touch by Alyssa Milano
61 - GameDay Case / Winner Wireless / NEOCube
62 - Gameday Couture- LLC
63 - Gamevil Inc.
64 - Gertex Hosiery
65 - Great American Products Inc.
66 - Happy Feet- a division of NJD Specialty Retail- Inc.
67 - Harman International
68 - Herschel Supply Company
69 - The Highland Mint / Bullion International
70 - Homage
71 - Hybrid Apparel / Hybrid T's
72 - Icer Brands - UNK NBA
73 - Icon AI
74 - IDNA Brands / Sportula Products
75 - Ikonick
76 - Innovative Concepts in Entertainment / ICE Games
77 - Interactive Play Technologies
78 - ISlide
79 - Item Of The Game - Maingate
80 - Jarden Sports Licensing- LP / Rawlings Sporting Goods - a division of Newell Rubbermaid
81 - Jason of Beverly Hills
82 - Jewel Craft
83 - JH Design Group / Jeff Hamilton
84 - Jones Golf Bags
85 - JR286
86 - Junk Food Clothing / Delta Apparel
87 - Kidrobot
88 - Kolder
89 - Label Daddy- LLC
90 - Levelwear / Accolade Group / Accolade USA
91 - Levi Strauss Co. / Levi's / Dockers
92 - Little Earth Productions Inc.
93 - Logo Brands / Logo Inc.
94 - Logoart - A Division of Jewel-Craft Inc.
95 - Loot Crate / Sport Crate
96 - Lucky Explorers
97 - Lulu DK Lifestyle LLC
98 - Maccabi Art
99 - Malbon Golf
100 - Mars / M&M's / Mars Retail Group
101 - Math Hoops - Learn Fresh Education Co.
102 - McArthur Towel and Sports- a Wincraft Company
103 - McFarlane Toys / TMP International
104 - MeiGray Group
105 - The Memory Company
106 - Mitchell and Ness Nostalgia Company
107 - Mitchener-Farrand Jewelers
108 - Mojo Licensing - a division of Concept One - formerly Denco Sports Luggage Inc.
109 - MuscleAidTape
110 - Nap Cap
111 - Nemcor Inc.
112 - New Era Apparel - 5th & Ocean Clothing
113 - New Era Cap Co. Inc.
114 - NHS dba Nor-Cal Clothing
115 - Nike USA / Nike Team Sports
116 - The Northwest Company LLC
117 - OpSec Security
118 - Outerstuff
119 - Panini Group / Panini America
120 - Party Animal Inc.
121 - Pearl Street Caviar
122 - Pegasus Sports LLC - a division of Pegasus Home Fashions
123 - Perfect Timing Brands. / Turner Licensing / The Lang Companies / By Design
124 - PersonalizationMall.com - a division of Bed Bath and Beyond
125 - Pets First Inc.
126 - Photo File Inc. / Photofile Inc.
127 - Pintrill
128 - Poolmaster
129 - Pop Sockets
130 - Pro Specialties Group Inc.
131 - Pro Standard
132 - Profile Enterprises
133 - PSP Sports - Hoop Magazine
134 - PwrPods
135 - Rastaclat LLC
136 - Refried Tees
137 - Rico Industries / Tag Express
138 - Robin-Ruth USA / RR West Coast
139 - Saber Interactive
140 - Scobre Press
141 - Seamus Golf
142 - Shut LLC
143 - Silver Crystal Sports / FanZones dot com
144 - Skinit Inc. / Global Wireless Entertainment
145 - Sleakers / SLKRS
146 - Snaps
147 - Spalding / Huffy Sports- a Division of Russell Brands
148 - Spec Seats- Inc.
149 - Sportiqe Apparel Co.
150 - Sportradar US- a division of Sportsradar AG
151 - Sports Licensing Solutions LLC- formerly Fanmats
152 - Sprayground
153 - Stahls' Inc. / Hotronix
154 - Stance Socks
155 - Stay Charged Up
156 - Steiner Sports
157 - Tailgate / Tailgate Clothing Company / T-University / Threadless - a div of American Eagle Outfitters
158 - Tee Shirt Central
159 - Tervis Tumbler
160 - The Dunk Collection
161 - The Upper Deck Company / Upper Deck Authenticated
162 - The Very Warm
163 - Tissot
164 - Top Dog Collectibles Inc.
165 - Trends International USA
166 - Trends International- LLC
167 - Triumph Books
168 - Twelve Twenty One / 1221
169 - Two Hype
170 - Under Armour
171 - UPI Marketing Inc. / Team Keys
172 - Vice Golf
173 - Victor Solomon  / Literally Balling
174 - Victory Tailgate
175 - Wax Works / Team Marketing
176 - West Coast Novelty / WCN Group
177 - Williams-Sonoma Inc. / Pottery Barn / PB Teen
178 - Wincraft Inc.
179 - Winning Streak Sports
180 - Zephyr Graf-X / Zephyr Headwear / Mission Belts / Tokyodachi
181 - Zipway NBA Apparel / Oved

I have also pasted below a jpg of the same list showing the City, State/Province and Country of each of these 181 NBA licensees. But once again, remember that if you subscribe to the searchable directory for $59 for three months, you will get complete information on each company and you can search using all sorts of criteria.



Elsewhere in this blog you can find a similar article I posted in March 2012. At that time I posted the list of the then 109 NBA licensees, and I have pasted that list immediately below.

March 2012
List of NBA / National Basketball Association Licensees as of 2012
1 2K Sports / Take Two Interactive
2 5th & Ocean- a division of New Era
3 A & A Global Industries
4 Accolade Group / Accolade USA / Levelwear
5 A-DATA
6 adidas America / Reebok
7 The Antigua Group
8 Authentic Street Signs
9 Bleacher Creatures
10 Boelter Brands
11 B for Betsy
12 Bombo Sports and Entertainment
13 Brite Lite Logos
14 Charm 14
15 ComfyFeet
16 Concept One Accessories
17 Coveroo
18 Creative Innovisions
19 Cufflinks
20 Dazadi / Harvil
21 Deco Pac
22 Designs by Chad & Jake
23 Dreamseats LLC
24 Eagles Wings
25 Fan Mats
26 FatHead LLC
27 For Bare Feet / FBF Sportswear
28 Forever Collectibles aka Team Beans
29 Forty Seven Brand / Twins í47 Headwear/ Banner í47 Apparel
30 Franco Apparel Group- a division of Infinity Group
31 Game Time Geeks / Flash Ventures / Tribeca
32 Game Time Watch / Game Time LLC
33 GameWear International / Wear The Game
34 G-III Leather Fashions Inc. / G-III Sports / 58 Sport
35 Good Stuff / Win Stuff
36 Great American Products
37 Guidecraft
38 The HB Group LLC
39 The Highland Mint / Bullion International
40 Hunter Canada
41 Hunter Manufacturing
42 Icer Brands - UNK NBA
43 ID Blingz
44 IMAGIX†/ LDT Import-Export
45 Imperial USA
46 Industry Rag / Majestic Threads
47 Jarden Sports Licensing- LP
48 JF Turner / John F. Turner & Co. / Lang Holdings - See Perfect Timing
49 JH Design Group / Jeff Hamilton
50 Junk Food Clothing
51 Knights Apparel- Inc.
52 Kolder
53 Little Earth Productions Inc.
54 Logo Chair Company
55 Logoart - A Division Of Herff Jones- Inc.
56 Majestic Athletic / Majestic Industries / VF and VFC
57 McArthur Towel and Sports- a Wincraft Company
58 McFarlane Toys / TMP International
59 MDI Entertainment- a Scientific Games Company
60 Milliken Rugs / Milliken and Company
61 Mounted Memories
62 National Design
63 National Emblem
64 New England Flag and Banner
65 New Era Cap Co. Inc.
66 NIKE USA
67 The Northwest Company LLC
68 Pangea Brands
69 Panini Group / Panini America
70 The Party Animal Inc.
71 Perfect Timing- Inc.
72 Phiten USA
73 Photo File Inc.
74 Power Balance LLC
75 Power Decal- a division of Axiz Group
76 Pro Specialties Group
77 Profile
78 Promark / Team Promark
79 Pure Orange Inc.
80 Reebok - Mitchell and Ness Nostalgia Company
81 Reebok - Outerstuff- a division of adidas
82 Reebok - Sports Licensed Division
83 Replay Photos LLC
84 Rico Industries / Tag Express
85 Sara Lynn Togs / College Concepts / Concepts Sport
86 Siskiyou Gifts / Siskiyou Buckle Co.
87 Skinit Inc.
88 Spalding / Huffy Sports- a Division of Russell Brands
89 Sportiqe Apparel Co.
90 Sports Coverage
91 Sporty K9
92 Team Grill Inc.
93 TeamHeads
94 Tervis Tumbler
95 Three60 Gear- a Division of A&E Group
96 Top Dog Collectibles Inc.
97 Top Shelf Coffee Inc.
98 Topperscot
99 Trends International- LLC
100 Trends International USA
101 Triumph Books
102 UPI Marketing Inc. / Team Keys
103 The Upper Deck Company
104 Virtual Greats LLC
105 VOmax
106 Warface By Design
107 Warner Home Video / Warner Brothers
108 Wincraft Inc.
109 Winning Streak Sports

Now comes the fun part – of the 109 licensees in 2012, how many companies do you think are still licensees in 2020 (remember that there are now 181 licensees)? Would you guess 80 companies (73%)? Maybe 70 companies (65%)?


The answer is 50 companies – 46%. Drink that in for a minute – of the 109 NBA licensees in 2012, a short eight years later only 50 (46%) are still NBA licensees.

Let’s look at this another way – of the 181 NBA licensees as of 2020, just 28% - only 50 companies - were NBA licensees in 2012, just eight short years ago. Holy smokes!

Here are the 50 NBA licensees from 2012 that are still NBA licensees in 2020:
1 - 2K Sports / Take Two Interactive Software Inc. / T2
2 - adidas America / Reebok (Sports Licensed Division)
3 - Authentic Street Signs
4 - Bensussen Deutsch & Associates / BDA
5 - Bleacher Creatures / Uncanny Brands / Phenom Gallery
6 - Boelter Brands
7 - Cufflinks
8 - Designs by Chad & Jake
9 - Eagles Wings
10 - Fanatics (was known as Majestic Athletic / Majestic Industries / VF and VFC)
11 - FatHead LLC
12 - Forever Collectibles / FOCO / Team Beans
13 - Forty Seven Brand / Twins '47 Headwear/ Banner '47 Apparel
14 - G-III Apparel / G-III Leather Fashions Inc. / G-III Sports by Carl Banks / 58 Sport / Touch by Alyssa Milano
15 - Great American Products Inc.
16 - Icer Brands - UNK NBA
17 - Jarden Sports Licensing- LP / Rawlings Sporting Goods - a division of Newell Rubbermaid
18 - JH Design Group / Jeff Hamilton
19 - Junk Food Clothing / Delta Apparel
20 - Kolder
21 - Little Earth Productions Inc.
22 - Logo Brands / Logo Inc.
23 - Logoart - A Division of Jewel-Craft- Inc.
24 - McArthur Towel and Sports- a Wincraft Company
25 - McFarlane Toys / TMP International
26 - Mitchell and Ness Nostalgia Company
27 - New Era Apparel - 5th & Ocean Clothing
28 - New Era Cap Co. Inc.
29 - Nike USA / Nike Team Sports
30 - Outerstuff
31 - Panini Group / Panini America
32 - Perfect Timing Brands. / Turner Licensing / The Lang Companies / By Design
33 - Photo File Inc. / Photofile Inc.
34 - Pro Specialties Group Inc.
35 - Rico Industries / Tag Express
36 - Skinit Inc. / Global Wireless Entertainment
37 - Spalding / Huffy Sports- a Division of Russell Brands
38 - Sportiqe Apparel Co.
39 - Sports Licensing Solutions LLC- formerly Fanmats
40 - Tervis Tumbler
41 - The Antigua Group
42 - The Highland Mint / Bullion International
43 - The Northwest Company LLC
44 - The Upper Deck Company / Upper Deck Authenticated
45 - Top Dog Collectibles Inc.
46 - Trends International USA
47 - Triumph Books
48 - UPI Marketing Inc. / Team Keys
49 - Wincraft Inc.
50 - Winning Streak Sports

Let me share one other fact with you. In the time that I have been maintaining my licensee database - from 2012 to the writing of this posting in 2020 - I have built a list of a whopping 227 companies who once held an NBA license in the last eight years but no longer do. That’s 227 companies over a fairly short eight year period. Yikes! If you want to see the list, subscribe to my database and you can see for yourself. (You might ask – why would someone have any interest in a list of former NBA licensees – what good would that info do me? My answer is simple – if you are an aspiring NBA licensee and you want to learn some lessons BEFORE you became an NBA licensee, here’s a remarkable list of 227 companies and people who have first hand experience being NBA licensees. And because my database has people’s LInkedin url’s, you could find many of these people even though they have long since changed jobs and even industries – the lessons they learned are there for you to learn from if you wish.)

How do the Big Four pro sports leagues compare in this regard – how many companies once held a license from the NFL / MLB / NBA / NHL between 2012 and 2020 but no longer do?


According to my stats, here are how many companies were licensees of a league between 2012 and 2020 but are no longer licensees of that same league:
NFL – 61 companies (about 36% of the current number of NFL licensees)
MLB – 142 companies (about 57% of the current number of MLB licensees)
NBA – 227 companies (about 125% of the current number of NBA licensees)
NHL – 122 companies (about 57% of the current number of NHL licensees)

So what are we to take away from this?

I’d say there are three main takeaways:

1. The fact that only 28% of the current NBA licensees were NBA licensees just eight short years ago tells me this isn’t a business for the faint of heart. That is a lot of turnover, all of which happened in a period of fairly robust economic activity. Scary to think what the number would have been if there had been a tough economy.


2. The fact that the NBA currently has 181 licensees and yet there are 227 companies that are no longer licensees but were at one point in the last eight years also suggests to me, no perhaps screams to me, that being an NBA licensee is not for the faint of heart. You had better be darned sure that you want to enter this licensing space.

3. The fact that the number of NBA licensees grew from 109 to 181 over eight years suggests to me that the NBA is open to new licensees. So if you are an aspiring NBA licensee, that’s a good thing - it says to me that the NBA is open to ideas.

Allow me a parting comment: I am a consultant and that's how I make my living. My speciality as a consultant is working with people who would like to obtain their own (sports) license, as well as working with people who would prefer to work with an existing licensee. Often times people don't know the pluses and minuses of each so we discuss both and then they are better able to decide which route is best for them. I work a number of ways, but the most popular are hourly telephone consulting and full day face-to-face consulting sessions where I come right to your place of work and meet with you.

Many thanks for your time and fire away if you have questions!

Scott Sillcox
Cell: 416-315-4736


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I want to become a sports product licensee - How can I learn more about licensing sports products?

Greeting folks!

This note is written by Scott Sillcox in early 2018 in response to a lot of readers asking me two questions:

A. You wrote and posted many of your blog postings several years ago, is the info still relevant today? Short answer - absolutely! The basics of sports licensing change very little over the years, so I strongly suggest that if you are trying to learn about sports licensing, read away! I have also tried to update certain areas where there have been significant changes, so I feel comfortable in telling you that this information is still highly relevant.

B. You mention that you are a consultant and might be able to help me, do you still do consulting? Short answer - absolutely. I work in the licensing field virtually every day of my life, so if you have questions or would like my help, contact me!

Many thanks and happy reading -
Scott Sillcox

================

My name is Scott Sillcox and I am a sports licensing expert - not a claim you hear too many people make. I really am quite lucky to do what I really love - meet with people and talk to them about sports product licensing. It doesn't get much better than that. Each and every day of the week I get contacted by entrepreneurs of all ages - people with a burning desire to see a product idea come to life. And while these people may be young or old, from the US deep south or Australia, Nova Scotia or San Diego, what they almost all have in common is a lack of first-hand knowledge about sports licensing. And that's where I come in...



In the calendar year 2018, I'd like to meet with as many of these entrepreneurs as possible, and to that end I will be doing two separate tours (one spring, one fall) and visiting 20 cities across North America. The spring 2018 tour runs through April and May and the ten cities I'll be visiting are shown below. While in each city, I will be meeting with people who want to learn more about sports product licensing.

While in each city, I will be meeting face-to-face with people who want to learn more about sports product licensing. If you are considering going through the process of acquiring a sports license(s), or if you are considering working with an existing licensee, you should strongly consider meeting with me live and in person. If you have been dreaming about your product and the opportunity it represents for months, maybe years – now’s the time to move your idea forward! Take advantage of me coming to a city near you.

1. You can meet with me for a full day session – from 8:30am – 5:00pm - just you and me (or you and your team if you wish). The full day one-on-one session fee is $1500.

2. You can meet with me for a half day session (4.5 hours) – either in the morning or the afternoon. This half-day session is also one-on-one - just you (or your team) and me. The half day session fee is $900.





The cities and dates for the Spring 2018 tour are:
1. April 3 - 5 (Tues - Thurs): Boston
2. April 10 - 12 (Tues - Thurs): Cleveland & Columbus, OH
3. April 17 - 19 (Tues - Thurs): Washington DC
4. April 24 - 26 (Tues - Thurs): Ft. Lauderdale FL
5. May 1 - 3 (Tues - Thurs): Princeton NJ & NYC area
6. May 8 - 10 (Tues - Thurs): Atlanta
7. May 14 - 16 (Mon - Wed): Los Angeles
8. May 17 - 18 (Thurs – Fri): Seattle
9. May 22 - 24 (Tues - Thurs): Chicago
10. May 29 - 31 (Tues - Thurs): Dallas
Possible other cities: St. Louis, Charlotte NC, Las Vegas

I can send you a suggested meeting agenda - just ask - but because our one-on-one time together will be totally focused on your needs and your story, no two sessions are ever the same so the agenda is highly flexible.

If your city is not listed above and you would like me to come to you, I’m happy to go almost anywhere in the continental US or Canada as long as you book a full day session and pay a one-time all-inclusive travel fee of $500. Thus for a flat fee of $2000 I will come right to your door and spend a full day with you.





To register, simply call me, Scott Sillcox, at 416-315-4736 or email me at ssillcox@rogers.com and book your face-to-face time - you can lock-in a confirmed session right over the phone.

Many thanks for your interest in sports licensing and I hope I get a chance to meet with you some time in 2018.

Scott

Monday, July 2, 2012

Licensing U - If you have an idea for a licensed sports product, this workshop is for you

Greeting folks!

This note is written by Scott Sillcox in early 2018 in response to a lot of readers asking me two questions:

A. You wrote and posted many of your blog postings several years ago, is the info still relevant today? Short answer - absolutely! The basics of sports licensing change very little over the years, so I strongly suggest that if you are trying to learn about sports licensing, read away! I have also tried to update certain areas where there have been significant changes, so I feel comfortable in telling you that this information is still highly relevant.

B. You mention that you are a consultant and might be able to help me, do you still do consulting? Short answer - absolutely. I work in the licensing field virtually every day of my life, so if you have questions or would like my help, contact me!

Many thanks and happy reading -
Scott Sillcox

================

Greetings!

In response to a need that many of the readers of this blog have expressed, in 2012 I launched Licensing U: A one day workshop on almost everything you wanted to know about Licensed Sports Products.



I have been holding these workshops for five years, and the spring 2018 tour dates and cities are shown below. Attendance at each workshop is strictly limited to 5 participants/organizations.

As you may know, from 1997 to 2010 I was a licensee of the NFL, MLB, NHL and through an affiliated company, the NCAA/US colleges. In 2011 I wrote the 12-part blog entitled “An Insider’s Guide to the World of Licensed Sports Products: Practical Lessons from the Trenches”, and in May of 2012 I introduced the highly searchable directory of 1500+ licensed sports companies in North America - a database that I update at least weekly, often daily.. Both of these highly unique resources have proven to be invaluable guides to people and companies contemplating entering the world of licensed sports products, and together are viewed by more than 3500 people per month – quite a stunning number for such a specific field. Many thanks for your support and readership!

I speak with, and email, a great number of wonderful people each and every day about licensing and licensed sports products, and they generally fall into one of two categories:

1. People who have an idea for a licensed sports product(s) and want to really learn how to obtain their own sports license – be it from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, MLS, Nascar or other sports licensors.

and

2. People who have an idea for a sports product but would prefer to work with an existing license in some way, shape or form.

The idea for Licensing U came from these conversations – there simply seems to be a massive need for knowledge. A need for an educational, hands-on forum where people can learn even more about entering the licensed sports product world – whether it’s with a focus on acquiring their own license or working with an existing licensee – the workshop will address both needs.

Prior to entering the licensed sports product field, I ran seminars, conferences and trade shows across North America so I am very comfortable in organizing a two day workshop in a handful of key North American markets. The key is that these workshops will be very hands on - highly interactive - with a lot of back and forth dialogue between me and the participants. That’s why it is so important to me that the attendance be limited to no more than 5 people per workshop.

In fact, the participatory, sharing-of-information nature of the workshop is so important to me that I am asking each person who registers to agree to the following statement: “The sharing of ideas during the workshop is encouraged and welcomed – you will only get from this workshop what you put into it. That being said, share only what you feel comfortable with sharing, and understand that none of your fellow attendees are bound by non-disclosure agreements.”

If you would like to see an agenda for the workshop, please send an email ssillcox@rogers.com.

If you are interested in sports licensing but have a lot of questions, this day long workshop is a great source of information - and at $499, it's a terrific value. Workshops must be booked 30 days before the workshop date.

The cities and dates for the Spring 2018 tour are:
1. April 3 - 5 (Tues - Thurs): Boston
2. April 10 - 12 (Tues - Thurs): Cleveland & Columbus, OH
3. April 17 - 19 (Tues - Thurs): Washington DC
4. April 24 - 26 (Tues - Thurs): Ft. Lauderdale FL
5. May 1 - 3 (Tues - Thurs): Princeton NJ & NYC area
6. May 8 - 10 (Tues - Thurs): Atlanta
7. May 14 - 16 (Mon - Wed): Los Angeles
8. May 17 - 18 (Thurs – Fri): Seattle
9. May 22 - 24 (Tues - Thurs): Chicago
10. May 29 - 31 (Tues - Thurs): Dallas
Possible other cities: St. Louis, Charlotte NC, Las Vegas

As much as I like to share information and answer questions about sports product licensing, I particularly enjoy listening to what people have to say and the questions they pose. So if anyone has any questions, either about the workshop, the registration process or sports product licensing in general, I truly encourage you to contact me by phone 416-315-4736 or email ssillcox@rogers.com.

And please remember that workshop registration is strictly limited to 5 people per workshop, so please don’t delay in registering by calling or emailing me.

For more information, please contact:
Scott Sillcox
Licensed Sports dot net
Aurora, ON
Cell: 416-315-4736
Email: ssillcox@rogers.com
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/scottsillcox

Many thanks!
Scott

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How online ecommerce stores / retailers / etailers selling licensed sports products can find suppliers / licensees / manufacturers who will sell to them and drop ship for them

Greeting folks!

This note is written by Scott Sillcox in early 2018 in response to a lot of readers asking me two questions:

A. You wrote and posted many of your blog postings several years ago, is the info still relevant today? Short answer - absolutely! The basics of sports licensing change very little over the years, so I strongly suggest that if you are trying to learn about sports licensing, read away! I have also tried to update certain areas where there have been significant changes, so I feel comfortable in telling you that this information is still highly relevant.

B. You mention that you are a consultant and might be able to help me, do you still do consulting? Short answer - absolutely. I work in the licensing field virtually every day of my life, so if you have questions or would like my help, contact me!

Many thanks and happy reading -
Scott Sillcox

================

Greetings!

I am getting asked the following question almost every day, so I thought I should post both the question and my answer in this blog posting.

Scott:

For someone who is starting out as an online ecommerce store / retailer / etailer of licensed sports products, how do I build a relationship with licensed sports products licensees who will sell to me? How do I find a list of the licensees? How do I find out which ones will do drop shipping for me? Can you tell me about distributors and if they will do drop shipping for me? Where do I go to read your blogs?

Dear current or future online ecommerce store / retailer / etailer:

1. Last question first: My blog can be found here. It is primarily directed at licensed sports products LICENSEES, ie companies which are currently licensees of one or more of the North American sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, Nascar, NCAA, MLS, etc.), or companies/individuals wishing to become licensees of a sports league(s). But there are a number of postings that would apply to retailers/potential retailers like you and I encourage you to read away.

2. You may see other online ecommerce stores / retailers / etailers who seem to have drop shipping programs with various licensed sports product licensees (manufacturers) that you would to have relationships with. I think it’s very important that you understand as much as you can about a company called Kynetic which operates the online stores for the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, Nascar and ESPN. Please read this blog posting.

The same company, Kynetic, also owns a company called Fanatics (aka Team Fan Shop). Fanatics operates online stores for dozens and dozens of organizations and teams (see their list of partners here). This company (Kynetic + Fanatics) buys product from all sorts of licensed sports products companies (licensees), warehouses the product, and then ships the product - they do not ask the licensees to drop ship. This company (Kynetic + Fanatics) is the largest seller of licensed sports merchandise in the world (not just the largest online seller, the largest seller in total). So when you are trying to figure out who drop ships and who doesn’t, keep in mind that Kynetic/Fanatics does NOT ask the various licensees to drop ship for them – they buy the product outright and warehouse it themselves.

I mention all this because it is entirely possible that a website you admire and think has a drop shipping program established with a licensee (manufacturer) might in fact be a Kynetic/Fanatic website, in which case they don’t actually have a drop shipping program in place with the manufacturer.

3. If you are trying to find licensed sports product licensees (manufacturers) who will drop ship for you, here is my advice:

A. Decide what you are going to specialize in, ie NFL apparel.

B. Go to my searchable online directory and use the Advanced Search feature to find all the companies listed which sell the products you are most interested in. In this case you would search for companies which have the following characteristics: 1. Softgoods - Apparel/Jerseys/Outerwear/Tshirts and are licensed by the NFL - you should find approximately 26 companies. This is a paid directory, and costs $59 for three months use. If you're not sure if this database would be worth the investment, check out this 3 minute video that gives you a sense of what to expect.

C. Figure out which of the 26 sells product that you like (each company's website is right there on my website).

D. Pick up the phone and call each company's sales department - the phone # is right in the database as well. Ask if they have a drop shipping program for ecommerce retailers. If they do, great. If they don't, ask if they can suggest to you a DISTRIBUTOR of theirs who you can work with. To be clear, a Distributor is a company that buys product from a variety of manufacturers (licensees), stores the product in their warehouse, and then sells the product to retailers. Yes it costs you more than if you were able to buy the product from the manufacturer (licensee) directly, but not outrageously more. And most distributors have drop ship programs for online retailers like you. My online directory www.licensedsports.net also has a list of 19 distributors of licensed sports products in the USA and 9 in Canada (use Advanced search and search for 4. Licensed Sports Products Distributors and Country = USA). You can visit each of their sites to see if they carry NFL apparel, then go ahead and contact them to find out if they will drop ship for you.

For more on Distributors, please read this blog posting, especially the last portion.

4. You asked how to build a relationship with these companies (licensees and/or distributors)? By picking up the phone and calling them, and by treating them with respect and paying your bills on time (at least initially you will have to pay for everything by Credit Card, so paying on time isn't really a way to differentiate yourself since all bills will be paid immediately). If/when you become a decent sized customer, they will take note and start to do extra things for you, and one day you will wake up and find that you have built a relationship with them.

I hope this helps!

As always, if you have any questions, please contact me.
Scott

PS from Feb 2013
I hear from a lot of retailers, both bricks and mortar and e-commerce retailers, who want to buy jerseys to sell from their store but seemingly can't buy jerseys. Here's the best way I can explain things:
There are actually two distinct issues:
1. Identifying which officially licensed companies make replica or authentic jerseys.
2. Figuring out if any of them will sell the jerseys directly to you.

To explain, let's use the NFL and their jerseys as the example:

A. Nike is the official on-field jersey licensee for the NFL (I am using layman's terms), but they may only sell to a certain, select type of bricks and mortar retailer and to a select type of e-commerce retailer. I am not privy to their criteria for who they will and will not sell to - you have to work the phone with Nike's sales team and find out if they will sell to you or not. If they will not sell to you directly, you need to ask them if one or more of the entities they sell to (I would refer to these entities as a distributor, but Nike might call them something quite different) would in turn be willing to sell to you. And that's the key for you - you need to figure out who you can buy from - I do not have this info but Nike does. If anyone can share with me the names of a "distributor" who will sell Nike jerseys to independent bricks and mortar retailers and independent e-comm retailers, please let me know - there is a flood of companies wanting to buy from you. Also, please keep in mind that Nike sells several different "grades" of jerseys: they sell a Game Jersey which looks more or less like the on-field jersey and retails for $100-ish; a Limited Jersey which is a funky jersey not worn onfield and retails for $135-ish; and an Elite Jersey which appears to be the actual onfield style jersey and which retails for $250-ish).

B. In addition to Nike, Mitchell & Ness (owned by adidas/Reebok), also has an NFL jersey license, albeit for Throwback Jerseys ($250-ish retail) and Replica Jerseys (these appear to be throwbacks but are a different quality than the Throwback jersey line - these Replica jerseys retail for $140-ish). So you might also want to speak to M&N and see if you can buy directly from them or if not direct, could you buy through a "distributor"?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ode to a wastebasket: The J. Chein Company and a 40 year old licensed sports product

From time to time I would like to salute some of the early licensed sports products companies. There is a danger in getting too carried away with saluting past licensees only in the sense that it could be a never ending project (can you say black hole) and a bit too obscure for anyone to be overly interested in an endless stream of salutes. So rest assured I will pick and choose my spots as I profile a select number of the early licensed sports products companies. But I am also a big believer in history and learning from the past – a bit of the “those who neglect the past are doomed to repeat it” school of thought…

At the bottom of this blog I have added some text that isn’t overly readable, so please feel free to bypass it. I have written and included it largely as a way to use the powers of the internet to try to find anyone out there who might have in their possession a list of early NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL licensees. The reason I am trying to find these lists is to do a study on the longevity of licensees – also a pet project.

I have previously touched on the subject of early licenses and longevity:

A. Sports Specialties Corporation and David Warsaw, generally considered the grandfather of the licensed sports industry

B. The turnover of NFL licenses from 2003 to 2012

C. And to this small body of work I am adding, through this blog, the story of The J. Chein Company, aka Cheinco (pronounced “Chain-co”), another pioneer in the business of licensed products in general and licensed sports products in particular.

So without further ado, here is the story of The J. Chein Company – Cheinco – an early licensed sports products company.

I have owned the wastebasket pictured below since I was 13 years old in 1971. It’s a classic, says “National Hockey League Services 1971” along the seam, and has “Cheinco Housewares – J. Chein & Co. Burlington, NJ 08016” stamped on the bottom.

J Chein NHL Wastebasket
J Chein NHL Wastebasket
J Chein NHL Wastebasket
NHL Services Copyright line
J Chein Company name stamp

The J. Chein Company intrigues me for two reasons:

1. As mentioned, I have owned this wastebasket since 1971. I think this is a great product – it is well made (still going strong and doing yeoman work on a daily basis for 40 years and counting); it uses all the then-current teams’ logos and thus was a brilliant early example of a licensed product that overcame the “regionalism” that limits sales of licensed products and thus could be sold in any hockey market (modern licensees take note!!!); and I think it’s quite attractive in a licensed-sports-products sort of way. Just great work on Cheinco’s part.

2. As Alan Jaffe, author of “J. Chein & Co, American Toymaker”, wrote in 1995: “The Chein company pioneered the process of product licensing in the 1920’s and 1930’s, purchasing the art and rights for comic character toys featuring Popeye [Popeye the cartoon debuted in 1929], Felix (Felix debuted as a silent movie in 1919 and as a comic strip in 1923], then later the Disney characters, and eventually the Ninja Turtles and company advertising logos, such as Coca Cola.” How about that – Cheinco was purchasing the art and rights - licensing – in the 1920’s!

Here, in Mr. Jaffe’s words, is a summary of the story of The J. Chein Company. Content for this article is from the June 1995 issues of a magazine called “Inside Collector”, and is written by Alan Jaffe, author of a book called “J. Chein & Co, American Toymaker”.

J Chein & Company book

The J. Chein Company

The company began in a loft in New York City in 1903, with a metal-stamping operation run by Julius Chein. The company produced small tin prizes for the Cracker Jack boxes and other small toys for five and dime stores. Although the Chein Company made the advertising tins that we collect in its later years, its reputation is built on the nostalgic tin toys and tin banks that are so collectible.

Robert Beckleman, the last president of Chein Industries Inc., says that Julius Chein had a friend with the American Can Company who convinced the toy maker to lithograph designs on metal instead of painting them. American Can did the litho work for them until 1907, when Chein opened a plant in Harrison, New Jersey. They manufactured lithographed noisemakers, horse-drawn carts and coin banks which were sold mainly through the Woolworth chain stores.

Julius Chein was killed in a riding accident in 1926. He fell or was knocked from his horse, in Central Park, although there are variations on the story of his death. He was known for his violent temper, and was known to fly into a rage over something that went wrong at the plant. Stories tell that he had even been known to take off his watch, throw it on the floor, and jump on it when he was angry.

Back to the story of his death, it is rumored that he died of an apoplectic fit when his horse refused to jump. All that is documented, of course, is that he was riding his horse when he was killed. Chein had a disability that may have attributed to his bad temperament. He lost one of his arms as a child in a fireworks explosion. He had been fooling around with fireworks, which went off and blew off his arm (or part of it).

Mrs. Chein inherited the toy making company after her husband's death and turned the reins over to her brother, Samuel Hoffman. Mr. Hoffman had worked for Chein earlier when he was younger, but had left the Chein Company to start his own competing toy company, Mohawk Toys. The Chein Company flourished for decades under his direction, producing some of its most popular toys. Mr. Hoffman was a significant step in building the company in the early years.

In the early 1940's, the metal working company retooled to come to the aid of the war effort. Instead of toys, Chein made munitions: nosecones and tails for bombs, and the casing for incendiary devices. Times following World War II were prosperous years, but that time also marked the introduction of foreign made toys. The Japanese were exporting the small mechanical toys inexpensively, which had a tremendous impact on the Chein Company. Chein countered this by making larger mechanical toys that would be bulky and very costly for the Japanese to send to the United States. This time period led the Chein Company to produce some of the most collectible of any of the toys it ever manufactured. The Ferris wheel, which Chein had been producing since the 1930's, was refined, the company's first roller coaster was manufactured in 1949, the Playland Merry-Go-Round in 1950, the Space Ride and larger Rocket Ride came along in the early 1950's.

In 1949, the Chein Company left its 50,000 square foot facility in Harrison and built a new shop in Burlington, New Jersey - a more economical one floor plant of 75,000 square ft. Most of the front-line supervision, most of the toy and dye-makers, lithographers, and the very key manufacturing personnel made the move to Burlington. In peak seasons, Chein employed 600 people at the new factory.

Two problems contributed to later difficulties for the Chein Company. In addition to the onset of small foreign toys, giving the company its first real competition, the company still had strong ties with Woolworth, and nurtured their relationship. At this time Woolworth was the number one variety store and controlled some of the distribution of toys. It was inconceivable for them to consider a separation from Woolworth, so all Chein toys were still being sold only through this one outlet. The other problem was that plastic was available as a cheaper material to make toys, but Mr. Hoffman, still in control of the Chein Company, refused to turn to plastics. He didn't believe in the viability of plastic as a material, a shortcoming that greatly contributed to the demise of the company.

The Chein company pioneered the process of product licensing in the 1920s and 1930s, purchasing the art and rights for comic character toys featuring Popeye, Felix, then later the Disney characters, and eventually the Ninja Turtles and company advertising logos, such as Coca Cola.

Still, the company was working with a material that was rapidly becoming obsolete. Plastic was quickly taking over metal fabrication in both the toy and housewares divisions. Steel was too expensive, plastic was the new base material and the wave of the future. Rejecting plastics, refusing to involve their products in television advertising, and not selling to the mass merchandisers and discount stores, the company could not survive much longer. They did try to move into plastics, but it never quite worked for them.

Then in the mid-60s, Samuel Hoffman retired from Chein. Shortly afterwards the U.S. government hurried the end of the production of tin toys because of the hazards of their sharp edges. The cost of retooling to curl the edges of the toys was cost prohibitive, and thus ended the Chein era of tin toys.

The Chein toy division expanded its marketing and development, acquiring the Learning Aids Group, including its Renwal Plastic Division. Although they made toy planes, boats and cars, what most of us remember most from this company is the Visible Man and the Visible Woman.

In downsizing efforts a few years later, Renwal was sold and the toy division of Chein was discontinued. The company turned all of its attention to housewares in 1976, which they had been producing since the mid-fifties. Their products included kitchen canisters, bread boxes and one of their most successful items -- wastebaskets. It is in this time period that their advertising tins started being manufactured. Many of the Cheinco tins were given away empty when the products were purchased, sitting next to the actual products or on special displays in the grocery stores. There were also sets of tins, e.g. Sunkist California Dream Tin, Heinz Pearl Onions, and Maxwell House Coffee that were sold in department stores, packaged as a cannister set.

In the 1980's Cheinco Industries, produced a series of lithographed steel "carry-all" tins including Donald Duck, Star Wars and Oreos. Throwbacks to the two-handled pails of the 1920's and 1930's, these tins ins were too small to carry an entire lunch, but nonetheless turned up in lunch box collections. It was also around this time, that Bristol Ware, a division of Cheinco, reproduced the very popular roly poly Tobacco Tins. (Note: not sure when the Bristol Ware Division started, came into being or how production was broken down).

The company continued with the housewares until the late 1980's, when the company was sold to the Atlantic Can Company and was then known as the Atlantic Cheinco Corp. The Atlantic Can Company produced cake and cookie tins, but was beset by problems including chemical odors being released from the plant and the fact that they were, according to bankruptcy proceedings "a seasonal company trying to go counter-seasonal". The company, one of the world's leaving manufacturers of metal lithographed containers, including cookie tins, kitchen canisters, and wastebaskets filed for bankruptcy in February 1992, two years after one of their biggest successes, 700,000 Ninja Turtle wastebaskets were sold! Later that year Ellisco Inc., a Pennsylvania company, purchased the assets of Cheinco.


Many thanks for reading!
Scott

PS Here is what our friends at Wikipedia have to say about "J. Chein & Company”.

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I am trying to find a list of NFL licensees from the 1960’s or 1970’s or 1980’s; a list of MLB licensees from the 1960’s or 1970’s or 1980’s; a list of NBA licensees from the 1960’s or 1970’s or 1980’s; and a list of NHL licensees from the 1960’s or 1970’s or 1980’s.

More specifically, I was wondering if anyone out there (perhaps a former licensee or a former employee of one of the leagues’ licensing departments?) has a list of any of the following:

Lists from the 1960’s:

1. A list of NFL licensees from 1960 (or thereabouts).
It is possible that there wasn’t any formal licensing until 1963 when a company known as Sports Specialties Corporation became the first official licensee of the newly founded "National Football League Properties". See Blog Part 12 for more on Sports Specialties Corp. and its founder David Warsaw. http://licensedsports.blogspot.ca/2012/03/insiders-guide-to-world-of-licensed_6196.html

2. A list of MLB licensees from 1960 (or thereabouts).
The previously mentioned Sports Specialties Corp started selling licensed MLB bobblehead dolls in 1960 si it’s possible a “list” of licensees might exist from the early 1960’s. MLB Properties, which is still in existence today, was formed in 1966, but there may have been a predecessor organization known by a different name.

3. A list of NBA licensees from 1960 (or thereabouts).
It may be that there was no formal licensing of NBA product in the early 1960’s, or it may have started later on in the decade. NBA Properties Inc. was founded in 1967 but it is possible that it operated under a different name/structure in the early-mid 1960’s.”

4. A list of NHL licensees from 1960 (or thereabouts).
We know from a famous licensed products lawsuit (Boston Professional Hockey Club vs Dallas Cap & Emblem) http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/597/597.F2d.71.77-1280.html that the NHL’s licensing body officially known as “National Hockey League Services Inc.”, aka NHLS, was in operation at least by 1968. But we don’t know when NHLS began operations – an educated guess would be some time after MLB began their operation in 1960 and prior to the 1968 date mentioned in the lawsuit.

Lists from the 1970’s:

1. A list of NFL licensees from 1970 (or thereabouts).
In the 1970’s the licensing body was, and still is, “NFL Properties”.

2. A list of MLB licensees from 1970 (or thereabouts).
MLB Properties, which is still in existence today, was formed in 1966, and thus operated throughout the 1970’s.

3. A list of NBA licensees from 1970 (or thereabouts).
NBA Properties, which is still in existence today, was formed in 1967, and thus operated throughout the 1970’s.

4. A list of NHL licensees from 1970 (or thereabouts).
As mentioned above, I know for certain that in 1970 the licensing body was officially known as “National Hockey League Services Inc.”, aka NHLS. I have read, and written (in Blog Part 12), that NHL Enterprises began in 1969, but this is clearly not the case for two reasons: It was known as National Hockey League Services (NHLS) at least until at least 1971 (I have an NHL wastebasket that says National Hockey League Services 1971” on it), and perhaps much later. And secondly, we know that NHLS existed in 1968, so the 1969 date doesn’t make sense. I wondered if in saying that NHLE began in 1969, the writer was referring to NHLE or its predecessor, but that doesn’t even make sense given tat NHLS was in existence in 1968. I am certain that the NHL licensing body was known as NHL Enterprises Inc. from at least 1981 – so the gray area at the moment is from 1972 to 1980. In 1996 the name was changed to NHL Enterprises, L.P.

Lists from the 1980’s:

1. A list of NFL licensees from 1980 (or thereabouts).
The licensing body was, and still is, NFL Properties.

2. A list of MLB licensees from 1980 (or thereabouts).
The licensing body was, and still is, MLB Properties.

3. A list of NBA licensees from 1980 (or thereabouts).
The licensing body was, and still is, NBA Properties.

4. A list of NHL licensees from 1980 (or thereabouts).
I am certain that the NHL licensing body was known as NHL Enterprises Inc. from at least 1981. In 1996 the name was changed to NHL Enterprises, L.P.

Thanks for any list-finding help - I'd really appreciate it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Licensed Sports Products and the ebb and flow of time: What can change in 10 short years

I’ve written a fair bit about how difficult it is to acquire an NFL license, and I stand by what I have said and written. It is tough sledding to get an NFL license.

But time is a curious master, and I wanted to share with you the slightly bigger picture of what time can do and what the passage of time reveals.

When I became an NFL licensee in 2000, there were a large number of licensees – perhaps 300 or more. Things ebb and flow, and shortly after I became a licensee the NFL made a conscious decision to significantly reduce the number of licensees – a real bloodletting as I recall. There could be all sorts of reasons for the NFL to decide to reduce the number of licensees (then or now), but the prevailing thought at the time, as it was explained to me by several members of the NFL licensing team, was that if the NFL had six companies producing headwear, they would fight and bicker and point fingers at each other and generally make life miserable for the NFL licensing staff, but more importantly, they would compete in the marketplace and lower the wholesale, and therefore retail, prices of ball caps. Now on the surface of things that sounds like a good thing – companies competing and prices being reduced - but look at it through the eyes of the NFL licensing team at the time…

Let’s say each of the six companies sold 500,000 ball caps, and let’s say the average wholesale price of each cap was $7.50. The NFL’s royalty (at the 2002 royalty rate of 10%) would be:
500,000 caps/company x 6 companies x $7.50 each wholesale x 10% royalty = $2,250,000 in royalties

But remove the competition (ie reduce the number of licensees from 300+ to 100), and the prices for caps are going to rise. And the thinking was that regardless of price, the number of caps sold will be the same (perhaps a flaw in the thinking I realize, but accept it for now). In this scenario, the NFL royalty would be:
3,000,000 caps/company x 1 company x $10 each wholesale x 10% royalty = $3,000,000 in royalties.

And not only would the royalties increase by 25% by reducing the number of licensees, but the NFL licensing staff headaches of trying to adjudicate the fighting and finger-pointing between licensees would also largely go away. A win-win if ever there was one for the NFL licensing team, and thus the rationale for reducing the number of licensees.

Whether you agree with the thinking or not, accept for the moment that the prevailing thinking in 2000-2001-2002 was that by reducing the number of NFL licensees, the royalties collected would increase and the headaches would decrease.

So between 2000 and 2003, the number of NFL licensees decreased from 300+ in 2000 to just less than 100 by 2003.

September 2013: I used to show a list of NFL licensees that was given to me by the NFL in 2003, but I have been asked by the NFL not to publish that list - strange but true. This isn't a big deal, so let's not sweat it. Suffice it to say that the list, which I have, shows the NFL having just less than 100 licensees and since I was given this list by the NFL in March 2003, I will presume that it is more or less accurate.

Turn the hands of time ahead to 2008, and the NFL was continuing to make further reductions in the number of licensees. The thinking, as it was explained to me in March 2008 at the NFL Hardlines Summit in Miami, was that the NFL wanted “blue chip” licensees, and by reducing the number of licensees (from 100-ish where it had hovered for 5 years) to 80 while simultaneously increasing the annual guarantees somewhat significantly, they would shed some of the smaller, riskier companies and yet still increase the royalties generated on the basis of increased annual guarantees. “If you want to remain an NFL licensee, you’re going to have to prove you belong by paying for that privilege.”

Turn the hands of time to 2012, and the pendulum has clearly swung the other way. By my count there are approximately 175 NFL licensees in 2012, a very significant increase since 2008.

Why has the pendulum swung the other way? A host of reasons, including:

1. The NFL lost the American Needle court case in 2010, and regardless of what the NFL might say publicly, the Supreme Court ruling meant the NFL needed to increase competition and that meant increasing the number of licensees, particularly on the apparel (softgoods) side of things.

2. The NFL licensing team had some turnover after 2008, and with new people come new ideas. “What do you mean they reduced the number of licensees and stifled competition – what were they thinking?”

3. The NFL licensing team realized that by limiting competition, they were also limiting creativity and ingenuity, and they were actually starving the baby, not nourishing it.

Which way is the pendulum swinging right now? Is it still on the upswing or has it reached the peak and will soon be on the downswing? My guess is the NFL is still increasing the number of licensees, and that we might see as many as 200+ licensees in the next year or two.

And what impact would a larger pool of licensees have on things? If you are someone who is interested in acquiring an NFL license, my guts says now is a pretty good time to make your case and get in line.

Here are a couple fact-driven points that I would like to make.

I have said that things ebb and flow. I said that in 2000 there were 300+ NFL licensees, and by 2003 that number was barely 100 licensees. And I have said that now - in 2012 - there are roughly 175 licensees.

Of the 98 licensees from 2003 - not even 10 years ago – what percentage would you guess are still NFL licensees in 2012? 70%? 80% 85%? I would love to ask my friends at the NFL this question, because I’m guessing they have never been asked.

So please take a moment and guess, and think why you guessed the figure you did. What percentage of NFL licensees in 2003 are still NFL licensees in 2012?

The truth is, I think even the staff in the licensing department of the NFL would be surprised by the answer. I think if we were all honest with each other, we would think a fairly high percentage would still be licensees, largely because we all want to believe that having an NFL license is a bona fide ticket to prosperity – the pinnacle of the licensed sports business, the gold standard by which all leagues are judged.

So here are the facts as best I can determine:

Of the 98 NFL licensees in 2003, only 44% (43 companies) are still NFL licensees in 2012 – more than half the licensees have fallen by the wayside in less than 10 years. I realize that some companies were purchased and thus in a sense they are still licensees, but that’s gilding the lily. I also realize that I may have missed a handful of companies because the company name has changed slightly and I may have miscounted by a few companies, but the big picture point is that it appears that less than half the NFL licenses in 2003 remain licensed by the NFL less than 10 years later.

LIST OF THE 43 2003 NFL LICENSEES WHICH ARE STILL LICENSED IN 2012
1 Action Images, Inc.
2 BIC Corporation
3 Bradford Exchange, The
4 Brax, Ltd.
5 Highland Mint, The
6 Caseworks International
7 Classic Balloon Corporation
8 Decopac
9 Duck House, Inc.
10 Electronic Arts Inc.
11 Everlasting Images, Inc.
12 Fabric Traditions
13 Franklin Sports, Inc.
14 Fremont Die Consumer Products, Inc.
15 Great American Products, Inc.
16 Hallmark Licensing, Inc.
17 Hunter Manufacturing Group, Inc.
18 Imperial International
19 Kolder Inc.
20 Danbury Mint / MBI Inc.
21 McCarthur Towel and Sports, Inc.
22 McFarlane Toys
23 Memory Company, The
24 Mounted Memories, Inc.
25 MSA
26 National Emblem, Inc.
27 Northwest Company, The
28 Party Animal, The
29 Photo File, Inc.
30 Pro Specialties Group, Inc.
31 Reebok International, Ltd.
32 Rico Industries DBA Rico Industries/Tag Express
33 Riddell
34 Siskiyou Buckle Co., Inc.
35 Sports Coverage
36 Forever Collectibles / Team Beans, LLC
37 Topperscot, LLC
38 Topps Company, Inc., The
39 Twins Enterprise, Inc.
40 Wilson Sporting Goods Co.
41 Wincraft
42 Winning Streak Sports, Inc.
43 Zippo Manufacturing Company

Or phrased another way, of the 175 NFL licensees in 2012, only 25% (43 companies) were licensees in 2003 - less than 10 years ago! So over a period of less than 10 years, the NFL created well more than 100 new licensees. And that doesn’t take into account the companies who became licenses in 2004 –2010 and then fell by the wayside by 2012. So it’s possible that the NFL may have licensed 150 new companies, perhaps even 175 or more, over the last nine years – a significant number of companies!

No matter how you slice it, that’s a fair amount of turnover. In one sense that’s good news if you are currently seeking a license – this suggests that it’s not an impossible dream.

On the other hand, this is a bit scary in that it reveals, no matter how you slice it, that having an NFL license is not a ticket to the promised land. And having that perspective on things is an important lesson for anyone to learn, the NFL included.


Food for thought…

Many thanks for reading and as always, please contact me if you have any questions.
Scott Sillcox