It may be a couple more years before we know exactly what kind of impact Fanatics Trading Cards will have on the sports card market, but the new company will be hard to avoid, according to the man who made the deals to gain control of newly minted products.
In a recent appearance on Yahoo Finance, Rubin discussed Fanatics’ entry into trading cards, first by scooping up the next round of licenses for MLB, the NBA and NFL and then by acquiring The Topps Company.
With the type of money his new venture tossed at the leagues and players, the newfangled company will have to sell a lot of cards and NFTs. Rubin says Fanatics Trading Cards plans to change the size and scope of its efforts to raise awareness of the hobby.
“You have this really big business, and no one is marketing the growth of the category overall,” he said. “So when we think about this business, we think about today, a business $10 or $15 billion essentially has no marketing spend.
“We believe to really grow this industry overall, and we think we’re going to be the person that’s most responsible for growing the industry, we need to aggressively market and get more collectors into the business.”
Rubin believes the key is to turn fans into collectors on some level.
“We’re thinking about two things: how do we exponentiate and grow the amount of collectors in the business to grow the market. And the second thing is, how do we make the collector experience much better. And so I’m highly confident that when we begin marketing for the first time and improving the collector experience, then we can get consistent growth.”
Part of that marketing effort was in evidence at the annual Fanatics Super Bowl party Saturday night in Los Angeles, where the company had a “trading card studio” display set up.
Fanatics Super Bowl party features $5M+ in cards behind glass, including a 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps rookie in a PSA worth more than $2 million. pic.twitter.com/S3iZCulpKt
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 13, 2022
The hobby has experienced a huge boom in interest over the last couple of years, much of it coming from young adults. Rubin and the man heading up Fanatics Trading Cards, Josh Luber, haven’t shied away from viewing cards as an investment platform.
“Obviously the other thing that’s going in our favor right now is alternative investments are far more interesting for the younger generation. And whether it’s investing in art, whether it’s investing in NFTs, or crypto, or trading cards, this is where the younger generation is. And trading cards are a great place to invest, but we still need to introduce it to so many more people.”
Rubin said he’d like to see at least a ten-fold increase in the number of people who are actively involved in the trading card space on some level.
“My goal would be how we have 50 million, or 100 million collectors, or hundreds of millions of collectors. So I think there’s a huge opportunity for us to really grow this market.”
Fanatics’ move to acquire the oldest trading card brand wasn’t a surprise and you can expect more Topps-branded products to emerge—likely some popular baseball lines that will return to other sports once Fanatics gains full control of the trading card market. Fanatics is already running the Topps collectibles business, with few noticeable changes having taken place thus far. In buying Topps, Rubin made it a point for Fanatics Trading Cards to retain the current staff.
“We welcome 350 great members of the team to not only help us build the Topps business, but also to take over the NBA business and the NFL business that will move over to us within the next four years once their deal ends with Panini.”
Last year, Rubin was an individual investor in the Blackstone buyout of CCG, the parent company of sports card grader CSG. Rubin has also indicated Fanatics also has plans to play a role in the secondary market but as of now, exactly what those hopes entail isn’t known.
The portion of the interview in which Rubin discusses the trading card business is below.