Fanatics Signs Its First eSports Deal, for Overwatch League
Fanatics – the dominant force in online retailing of sports-licensed merchandise — has made its first big move into eSports, signing an agreement with Activision Blizzard to create licensed apparel (headwear, jerseys) and hardgoods tied to the Overwatch League. It’s the first big deal tied to that league, which was set up along the lines of traditional U.S. sports leagues, with a centralized licensing structure. Investors in its franchises include several who also own major chunks of traditional sports franchises, including the Krafts (New England Patriots), Wilpons (New York Mets) and Kroenkes (Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Rams.
In addition to developing the official gear, Fanatics also will develop a global ecommerce and mobile shopping platform for the league and operate the on-site retail stores at league events.
Activision Blizzard has worked for more than a year to build a licensing program. It sourced the bulk of the team-based products for the first season, which ended in July. Under the agreement, Fanatics has the “U.S. and international” rights for jerseys, fan gear, headwear and hardgoods across retail and wholesale channels. The first products will be available before the start of the league’s second season on Feb. 14.
In addition, Fanatics and Activision Blizzard also will work collaboratively to identify and secure additional world-class companies to grow the overall assortment of high-quality products available to fans.
Demand for fan gear was “very strong” during the league’s first season, with “a significant number of” fans arriving at the Blizzard Arena for regular season matches and the grand finals at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, in team jerseys, Activision’s Daniel Siegel said in a statement.
Activision Blizzard Entertainment, Daniel Siegel, Head of eSports Licensing, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fanatics Ross Tannenbaum, Head of Special Projects, email@example.com