FANATICS ON ICE: Sports fans of every inkling at times can be fanatical, but the NHL’s commitment to Fanatics is now a long-term business one.
Building on its existing deal, Fanatics will become the official manufacturer and supplier of replica NHL jerseys and on-ice Stanley Cup Championship merchandise starting with the 2017-18 season. The company will also kick off a wholesale division and it will have on-site retail outposts at several NHL events. Fanatics will also run the NHL’s auction Web site and bolster its authority as the league’s e-commerce operator, an alliance that began in 2005.
In 2017, the NHL will mark its centennial, with an estimated fan base of 13.7 million. Last year the league took in $2.6 billion in total revenue. Multichannel initiatives will be a major focus for Fanatics, which plans to step up its mobile, merchandising and production capabilities to benefit fans and retailers. The NHL has an estimated 9.24 million fans via Facebook and Twitter combined. Just as fashion followers are responding to trends at lightning speed, so, too, are NHL fans searching for the latest gear. The new multiyear deal is meant to give fans access to a broader assortment of products. The deal will also allow for stores to have quick turnarounds in responding to demand for specific teams or products as the season unfolds.
As the incoming exclusive manufacturer and supplier of all adult replica NHL jerseys, Fanatics will also develop a top-shelf offering that will be called “The Breakaway.” The company’s merchandise division Fanatics Branded will design the range to have a greater emphasis on comfort and versatility. Fanatics will also develop a youth line of replica NHL jerseys. The supplier also has secured a broad range of apparel and headwear rights, including official rights to manufacture and supply hot-market products for the league. These rights include the official locker room hats and T-shirts supplied to the Stanley Cup Champions, which are worn immediately (and subsequently Champagne-soaked) for media photo-ops.
NHL executive vice president and chief branding officer Brian Jennings said, “Our new long-term business partnership with Fanatics is a reflection of the growth and evolution of the consumer products and e-commerce business.”
Fanatics Branded-produced NHL jerseys and apparel will be sold on the league’s e-commerce site, through Fanatics’ network of sites and NHL team retail operations, and retailers in the U.S. and abroad. The NHL’s e-commerce site will also still sell other officially licensed merchandise.