Fanatics has launched its new livestream commerce business, Fanatics Live, which had first been announced in February 2023 when former Google and Snap executive Nick Bell was brought in to run the new division.
Fanatics Live aims to create a space where sellers and fans can “unite their passions and interests” and transact on collectible items in one place. The new offering is another indicator of the increasing emphasis that the digital sports platform is putting on collectibles. The company’s Collectibles division made the big leagues when Fanatics acquired Topps in January 2022. Then in March 2023, Fanatics hired former Red Bull Chief Marketer Ken Turner as CMO, with Fanatics Collectibles CEO Mike Mahan saying at the time that “marketing the [collectibles] category is one of our highest priorities.
“As our collectibles business continues to see enormous opportunities for growth, I’ve been focused on building out a world-class team to execute our vision for delivering the best collector experience possible, bringing more fans into the sector and creating truly connective moments across culture and sports,” Mahan added.
The new community-focused Fanatics Live platform lets fans and collectors participate in creator-run live shopping experiences via a dedicated app that is currently available in North America on Apple devices, with web and Android versions set to arrive later this year. Content on Fanatics Live will initially include things like trading card “breaks,” merchandise and collectibles drops and on-location streams featuring high-profile athletes and entertainers.
When fans download the app, they signal their interests and can then discover new content based on their preferences. Streams come to life through interactive widgets and a live chat experience that lets users engage with creators, react and celebrate together in real time. Sellers can run their entire broadcast through “LiveOS,” a one-stop shop for managing livestreams, including all logistical operations, analytics dashboards and audience engagement.
“With Fanatics Live, we see a tremendous opportunity to marry content, community and commerce, and are incredibly excited to officially launch our product,” said Nick Bell, CEO of Fanatics Live in a statement. “By bringing together like-minded fans and collectors on our platform, coupled with an extensive network of partners across sports, entertainment and culture, Fanatics Live aims to build a trusted environment for fans with highly entertaining, quality programming where commerce is ultimately its byproduct.”
Fanatics Live is working with a broad range of partners, from individual creators and brands to sports leagues, to provide unique product offerings, in-stream entertainment moments and talent appearances. Fanatics Live currently holds partnerships with Major League Baseball (in fact, the app made its debut on-field during the league’s All-Star Weekend in Seattle earlier this month), SLAM Magazine and Gary Vaynerchuk’s “entertainment community” VeeFriends. Additional collaborations will be announced throughout the year.
Fanatics Live also will leverage existing Fanatics businesses, including Topps, Lids and the company’s autograph and memorabilia division Fanatics Authentic, to create immersive content and commerce opportunities. Fanatics Live also will use partnerships across Fanatics’ sports and entertainment portfolio.
“All collectors are fans, but not all fans are collectors,” Bell told CNBC when he was hired. “We have a big opportunity to really grow the hobby by bringing in people who wouldn’t necessarily classify themselves as a collector today, and open them up to this hobby by the way of entertainment and a community where they can hang around like-minded people.”