Upper Deck & Topps lose their license!

To produce basketball cards (link).

Wow, this is another crippling loss for Upper Deck. Does this mean they will go the way of Donruss and produce unlicensed cards? Suddenly these Michael Jordan buyback autographs seem a lot more desirable now that Upper Deck and Topps is out the door.

Let’s hope Panini has upgraded their machines cause we don’t need stickers replacing Topps Refractor technology and Upper Deck’s designs.

— — —


NEW YORK, Jan. 27, 2009 – The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced a new exclusive, multiyear licensing agreement with The Panini Group – the leading global publisher of collectibles. The new partnership will focus on redefining the domestic NBA trading card category by enhancing the relationship with existing NBA card enthusiasts, cultivating a new generation of collectors, supporting hobby shops and retailers, and by creating new product growth opportunities worldwide.

25 thoughts on “Upper Deck & Topps lose their license!

  1. Ah, the key words in the press release are trading cards.

    If Upper Deck and Topps produce either collectible cards (that can’t be traded) or trading coasters (conveniently sized to 3-1/2″x2-1/2″), who is to stop them?

  2. Wow, that is huge news. Hopefully that sports file guy insider has some opinions on it because I don’t know what it will mean for the companies.

  3. Gotta love Beckett and their “Story Copyright” on Panini more than an hour after Wax Heaven and Freedom Cardboard posted the news.

  4. How do you think this affects Topps and UD? Do you think that means they will put more quality into their baseball and football cards now?

  5. Come on Mario, it isn’t April Fool’s Day yet. I’m not a basketball card collector by any stretch of the imagination, but there is absolutely no way that the NBA would do something that dumb.

  6. Who else is going to produce $600/pack products like Exquisite?!?!?

    This is a great day for the HOBBY. This sends a message to the card companies that a major international sport is not afraid to put revenue aside to get the people who fill their seats back into collecting.

    Or maybe I’m completely off base and the NBA is telling UD & Topps F-You, you guys are costing us too much money. C’mon, 1 pack/box of Exquiste could by season tickets to Memphis Grizzlies with $150 for refreshments.

    Seriously. Terrance III seats.


  7. Dave, I think it’s great for the NBA. It’s no secret the card companies focus on baseball. Basketball is global now and that’s their focus. It is a huge risk though.

  8. Just awful – Panini, known for their stickers, didn’t even make the best stickers. When I think of LeBron and Jordan, I think of Upper Deck. I don’t want to see them have to airbrush jerseys or anything like that. I don’t collect hardly any basketball, but now I will collect none at all.

  9. Too bad that it’s not happening in baseball or hockey. Panini products appear to cater to collectors rather than wannabe stockbrokers, and from a selfish point of view, that’s preferable to me.

    And Dave, what is dumb about this? Licensing from cards is likely a negligible part of NBA’s revenues, and it’s not like cards bring in new fans (more the other way around).

  10. Maybe it’s the NBA’s way of telling Topps and Upper Deck that they are tired of them producing overpriced crap.

  11. On the flipside, having been on both sides of sales negotiations and margin analysis, who’s to say that Topps or UD walked away from the NBA? Maybe the basketball card market margins are low enough for both companies to low ball their bids or to simply refuse to pay the licensing fees to begin with?

  12. Hoiles – you ask what’s dumb about this. I say, what’s not dumb about this? I’m not saying that Topps and Upper Deck don’t have their problems, but they are both major, well-respected card companies. The NBA is dumping them both in favor of a sticker company whose products most serious collectors regard as a joke. And it’s an exclusive contract, so there will be no competition. I’m thankful that I’m not a basketball card collector, because the basketball card hobby officially died today. I think I’ll have more to say when I write a blog post about this, probably later today.

  13. I know jack about basketball. I do know that all panini has ever made are stickers. So, unless they buy UD’s production facility, I have a feeling these are going to be Caaarappp.

    Why the hell would they go into this planning to make stickers anyway?

  14. Dave, I was commenting on the league’s point of view. Cards and memorabilia are a negligible part of the revenues, or fan appeal, of the NBA, or any sporting league. As big as the NFL or MLB is in the United States, or the NHL is in Canada, they are peanuts compared to soccer in Europe and South America in terms of popularity and fanaticism, and in these places sports cards by and large don’t exist.

    Obviously, it will hurt the quality of cards, in terms of bells and whistles (some of which, admittedly, are quite nice) and perhaps in terms of looks. But maybe it brings the price point down and makes it more accessible. From a selfish point of view, it would be nice to be able to complete a set without spending (literally) half a month’s rent.

    The biggest downside, obviously though, is the monopoly, which never is good.

  15. Since none of us have seen a Panini basketball card yet, we should probably wait to see live product before we excuse it as junk. Right?

  16. Let me start by saying, “I dont care”. I hate Basketball. I hate basketball cards, basketball players, Pro and College Hoops…it all sucks. I hate basketball almost as much as I hate soccer.
    Panini getting the rights is very funny. I know alot of you guys enjoy hoops and the cards associated with it. I hope something good comes out of this for you. It would be awful if you were opening your first box of Panini Basketball cards and pulled a Dora or SpongeBob sticker (I am pretty sure they make those)…haha.

    Later Gang

    P.S. I have yet to understand how I can hate basketball so much and I live in North Carolina. Its like saying you hate movies and you live in Hollywood.

  17. the word is that Panini’s offer was 25% more than Topps and UD for the exclusive contract..

    basically, it’s all about greed.

    not surprising that the NBA WOULD do something like that…

  18. Wow…I hope this means UD and Topps would start waking up and doing something bout the baseball hobby now. Or it could mean they are more dependent on baseball now and will start increasing the prices like crazy

  19. UpperDeck dug their own grave. I remember way back when, 50cents gives you 15 or more cards in a pack (20 years ago?). Now how much does a pack of Exquisite cost? And there’s only 3 cards in there. They only cater to diehard collectors who care for nothing except that 10-of-a-kind or less autographed card by MJ/Kobe/Lebron. Most of the other cards now doesn’t cost a thing if it doesn’t have an autograph and is of very limited print run.

    At least Panini sounds promising in saying they’ll start to cater to the low-end market as well. Trading Cards should be fun, not a mad dash to get a 1-of-1 card in prices only executives can afford, especially during this tough financial era we’re in, who can spare hundreds of dollars for a small piece of cardboard containing a photo, maybe a piece of cloth, and some ink from an athlete?

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