NBA Believes Time is Right for New Trading Card Maker

The NBA is hoping less is more when it comes to basketball cards….

…and it turns out their new industry partner wasn’t done signing deals this week.

Basketball cards are about to get a makeover. Some of the traditional big names in hoop cardboard are all gone now. The NBA’s exclusive new deal with Italian collectible maker Panini Group should make things less confusing and more streamlined. In the process, though, collectors have lost two more brands with which they have a history.

It’s a gamble the NBA believes will pay off with its new partner willing to step up efforts in partnership with the league.

CNBC sports business blogger Darren Rovell exchanged Q&A with Sal LaRocca, the NBA’s executive vice president of global merchandising and learned that the league is hoping only about a dozen new basketball card products will be produced between now and the spring of 2010.

Meanwhile, Panini capped off a busy week by signing a joint agreement with FIFA to produce soccer cards for the next six years.

The exclusive agreement will cover the next two FIFA World Cups™ in South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 for trading cards and sticker album collections.

The 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany created the opportunity for Panini to mastermind what it calls its "most successful collectable campaign in history". Panini sold its program in almost 100 countries around the world, smashing all previous sales records. Panini has held the soccer license for the last several years.

Peter Warsop, Panini’s Group Licensing Director said: "The Panini Group is privileged to have been appointed the exclusive collectible sticker and trading card licensee again. FIFA’s decision to re-appoint us as its licensee is a great reward for the investments made previously. We are already in discussions with our promotional partners and are committed to continuing the positive trends we have already seen across all product categories."

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