Panini America has announced that they have reached exclusive agreements with three major colleges for use in trading card products. This includes the University of Georgia, the University of Kentucky and the University of Miami. Going forward, Panini will feature college-themed cards in 2014-15 NBA products, 2015 MLBPA products and 2015 NFL/NFLPA products.
"This is a significant announcement not just for us, but for the entire trading card industry," said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop in a press release. "Some of the most collectible players that we work with across all sports are closely associated with these three universities and we’re genuinely excited to be able to honor their collegiate accomplishments in our products."
In addition to the three schools mentioned above, Panini also revealed that they would announce more exclusive schools in the near future.
While there was no mention of specific products focused on one university, the deals will open up several options for Panini collectors, including college-themed inserts and short prints/variations. It also will allow Panini new options in regards to early-season releases, which have commonly feature airbrushed college images for rookies due to time constraints. Although it would limited to the players from schools where they have deals, rookie players could be shown in their college gear when NFL options are not available.
Upper Deck previously obtained the full Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) card deal in 2010. This allowed them full use of college logos and trademarks and was the main focus for their basketball and football products.
In a statement released on its blog, Upper Deck pointed to their history of developing the college card category and points out they have some time left on their current deal, which goes into 2015.
"As an exclusive trading card partner of the CLC, Upper Deck has been able to responsibly manage the category, limiting releases and production so as not to saturate the market or jeopardize the steady growth and solid foundation that has taken years of hard work to build."
Additionally, it was reported that the three schools that signed with Panini had already left the CLC for Fermata Partners, so a card deal with the CLC would no longer include all college teams and trademarks. The article goes on to state that several large schools, including Alabama and Notre Dame, will soon be up for renewal with the CLC.
Do you have any reaction to the news of Panini's individual school licenses? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.