Fanatics has rolled up power in all areas of sports merchandising. And now it's coming for baseball, football, and basketball trading cards.
Similar licensing monopolies have totally destroyed sports video games. In the late 90's through about 2005, sports video games were incredibly dynamic, with 4-5 games coming out in basketball/football and sometimes 10 in baseball, and came with incredible innovation nearly every year (though to be fair, plenty of duds).
Now there's essentially one or two for every sport. And of the actual games that still get released, they're outrageously predatory and frankly, fairly poorly made in terms of quality. Innovation often goes backwards too, as the developers focus on more predatory ways to suck money out of "whale" customers. Meanwhile the actual products are worse than ever.
You know, I can see why people "don't mind" when something like Google has a monopoly on internet search. Even if it's bad for internet users, they at least got there in part by simply building a better search engine that delivered better results than their competitors for years and years. I know it's not that black and white, but the product actually did win out in the early days. Ask Jeeves.
I look at cases like this and it seems clear as day that management isn't trying to deliver the best for the customer, but is literally just trying to build a monopoly by any means necessary. All the while turning yet another hobby into a ruthless marketplace filled with speculators. Great!!
As always, I appreciate your work.
Any thoughts on this mega merger? https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/10/business/tapestry-capri-merger-luxury-fashion.html. Spent some time in PR and marketing at luxury brands in the pre-gobble 'em-up days (late '80s).
The Fanatics case seems like a good one for teaching students about anti-competitive behavior. There is some obvious anti-competitive conduct on the part of Fanatics that triggers multiple parts of our competition laws, so students get to see how they operate. I wish I had a place to stay in DC in order to assist Matt with his trial report, but, alas, I do not.
Not mentioned in this piece is how Fanatics is also acquiring PointsBet, moving into the gambling space and in the process attempting to become a one stop shop for a whole lot of things in the sports space. Walt Hickey did an interview recently with someone for whom sports business is their beat and it's just super super clear that Fanatics is a big problem in the making.