The recent $1.5 billion funding round for Fanatics is being led by the NFL, which invested $320 million into the online sports platform valued at $27 billion. Additional investors include the NFL Players Association, MLB and its players’ union, the NHL, Alibaba Co-founder and Brooklyn Nets Owner Joseph Tsai, and Paris Saint-Germain soccer team Owner Qatar Investment Authority, according to CNBC.
“This investment not only reflects our experience having worked with Michael [Rubin] and the team at Fanatics for a number of years but our belief that the company is building a business that is new, unique and valuable,” Brian Rolapp, Chief Media and Business Officer for the NFL told CNBC.
Fanatics has had a busy 2022: the company entered an ecommerce and licensing deal with professional wrestling’s WWE in March and acquired trading card brand Topps in January. On April 6, Topps and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) released news of their partnership.
In March 2021, a Fanatics funding round saw participation by existing investors Silver Lake, Blackstone BX.N, Fidelity Investments, Neuberger Berman, Thrive Capital and MLB. At that time, Fanatics noted that the capital would help it expand merchandise and distribution in addition to cultivating an international presence and pursuing mergers and acquisitions. In February 2021, Fanatics revealed that it would enter China’s market through a partnership with Hillhouse Capital.
Fanatics relies on a blend of its technology platform with a strong retail presence through which it sells its exclusively licensed merchandise in the sports segment. Of its more than 300 partnerships, Fanatics’ notable connections to professional sports include the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, MLS, PGA and soccer clubs around the globe. Fanatics also partners with a number of collegiate teams. Fanatics designs, produces and distributes licensed sports merchandise via an omnichannel approach, including selling in Nordstrom, Macy’s, Kohl’s, JCPenney and Lids, in which it is an investor.