The National Football League (NFL) has signed off on a ten-year deal giving Fanatics, the SoftBank-backed apparel and merchandise firm, exclusive consumer product licensing rights to manufacture and distribute all Nike NFL adult products.
The deal covers jerseys, sideline apparel and fan gear, which will be sold through the league’s retail community including NFLShop.com, NFL clubs and brick and mortar stores.
Nike, which agreed a ten-year renewal with the NFL in March, will remain the exclusive on-field supplier for uniforms, base layer and sideline apparel for all 32 teams, with the exception of headwear.
The NFL is the latest major sports league in the US to buy into Fanatics’ mobile-first, vertical commerce model, which will enhance both assortment and speed-to-market of the league’s products.
The NFL and Nike say they will leverage Fanatics’ made-to-order capabilities ‘to create the largest and most responsive assortment’ that can react to storylines throughout the NFL season.
The three-way deal, which comes into effect in 2020, mimics Major League Baseball’s (MLB) partnership with Fanatics and Under Armour, which also splits the manufactural load between two companies.
“We’re excited to bring together Nike and Fanatics, two partners at the top of their respective fields, to usher in an exciting new model for licensed merchandise,” said Michelle Micone, senior vice president of consumer products for the NFL.
“By emphasising the strengths of both Nike and Fanatics, we have a model that gives us the ability to offer superior on-field products to the teams and the nimbleness to serve the increasingly real-time expectations of today’s fans who have more control over their choices.”
“With technology, mobile and social media all contributing to a surge in real-time expectations, it’s exciting to team up with like-minded partners in the NFL and Nike who are equally enthusiastic in rolling out a new model for this industry that best serves the fans, retailers, players and the league,” said Gary Gertzog, president, business affairs for Fanatics. “Our vertical structure will allow us to reach more fans and retailers with a wider assortment of merchandise which is consistently stocked and replenished.”