WWE and Fanatics announce sports and entertainment partnership

WWE and Fanatics have announced a comprehensive, long-term sports and entertainment partnership that will see Fanatics utilise its expanded digital sports platform to create a new, enhanced experience for WWE fans globally across several businesses, including e-commerce and licensed merchandise, as well as physical, digital, and non-fungible token (NFT) trading cards.

Through the ground-breaking deal, WWE will benefit from many capabilities across the Fanatics platform to create more opportunities for its global fanbase to showcase their pride and passion for WWE, its marquee events, and star-studded roster.

The businesses that will work together to create an elevated fan experience include Fanatics Commerce, Fanatics Collectibles and Candy Digital.

“Fanatics is the industry leader and Michael Rubin is a visionary,” says Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “We believe this multi-platform partnership will set a new standard for WWE e-commerce, apparel and merchandise, while providing our fans globally with more ways than ever to engage with WWE and our Superstars.”

As part of the agreement, this summer Fanatics will exclusively re-introduce a new, rapid e-commerce and mobile destination, WWE Shop, giving fans around the world access to a leading assortment of WWE merchandise across all categories, including apparel, hard goods such as title belts, headwear, accessories and more.

Fanatics will work closely and collaboratively with the teams at WWE who have significantly grown this business in-house for decades, and the company will also add rights to design, manufacture and distribute real-time, on-demand merchandise collections to celebrate unpredictable WWE moments and new and emerging Superstars.

“WWE is one of the most widely admired sports and entertainment properties worldwide, and it made perfect sense to activate many parts of our Fanatics global platform to create a first-of-its-kind, all-in fan experience,” says Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin. “From e-commerce and licensed merchandise to trading cards and more, we’re going to offer up an incredible set of capabilities to help WWE’s passionate fans worldwide celebrate their favorite Superstars, marquee events and the WWE brand overall.”

Fanatics Collectibles, the company’s trading cards and collectibles division, will also become the exclusive provider of licensed WWE physical and digital trading cards, which will once again bear the nostalgic Topps logo. Fanatics acquired the legendary 70-year-old Topps brand earlier this year, which previously held a long-term relationship with WWE. That deal will commence when WWE’s existing trading cards rights expire over the next few years.

Also under the pact, later this year Fanatics’ next generation digital collectibles company, Candy Digital, will become one of WWE’s primary NFT partners. Candy’s team of world-class digital artists, designers, and technologists will curate and build a full range of high-quality trading card NFTs featuring WWE’s biggest moments and stars.

WWE signs agreement with IGT for exclusive licensing rights to develop omnichannel lottery games

WWE has signed a multi-year exclusive licensing agreement with International Game Technology PLC to develop and distribute WWE-branded omnichannel lottery games and turnkey promotional programmes featuring company logos, Superstars, events and programmes.

“IGT is the clear industry leader in the lottery and gaming space, and we look forward to collaborating by bringing our intellectual property to our fans and lottery games around the globe,” says Alex Varga, WWE Vice President, Revenue Strategy & Development. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to continue to leverage the strong crossover between the WWE Universe and another segment of the gaming landscape.”

“The WWE brand has broad appeal that reaches diverse age groups and cultural demographics in many geographies,” says Jay Gendron, IGT Chief Operating Officer, Lottery. “IGT looks forward to melding the unique WWE assets with IGT’s lottery expertise to create appealing, high-quality games and second-chance promotional opportunities for our global customers and their players.”


The Panini Group to become exclusive trading card and sticker album partner of WWE

The Panini Group and WWE have announced a multi-year agreement that will make Panini WWE’s exclusive trading card and collectible sticker partner. The agreement will begin in the first quarter of 2022 and will include multiple trading card products and a sticker album collection during the first year.

The first two product releases – 2022 WWE Prizm trading cards and a WWE Sticker Album – will coincide with the buildup surrounding WrestleMania, WWE’s biggest annual event, taking place on April 2 and 3 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

“We have aspired to become a WWE licensing partner for a long time and so we are extremely excited to be able to deliver to fans around the world an extended publishing programme,” says Panini Group Licensing Director Peter Warsop. “The WWE is an iconic brand and along with our own brands and in-depth International reach will ensure not only an explosive start to the relationship but a long-lasting trend of continued growth and excitement.”

“Panini has a 60-year history in sports and entertainment collectables and is a leader in the trading card space throughout the U.S. as well as in Latin America, Europe and Asia,” adds Scott Zanghellini, WWE Senior Vice President, Revenue Strategy & Development. “We believe that this partnership perfectly aligns our mutual interests in providing fans with exclusive collectibles and, ultimately, growing this category globally.”


WWE and Mattel extend global partnership

WWE and Mattel have announced a multi-year extension of their global master toy licensing agreement. The extended partnership includes exclusive rights around Action Figures, Action Figure Accessories and Kids Toy Title Belts.

The portfolio of innovative toys that Mattel and WWE have developed together since 2009 are currently stocked in more than 50 global markets around the world. WWE Action Figures have ranked as the No. 1 action figure property in the US and consistently hold a top ranking.

Mattel’s WWE Basic Action Figure Series is the longest-running continuous action figure assortment in history. Over the years, WWE and Mattel have launched multiple collaborations such as WWE and Ghostbusters and WWE and Masters of the Universe.

“Mattel is a true industry leader that continues to surprise and delight our fans around the world with innovative and creative WWE products that drive significant revenue for our retail partners,” says Sarah Cummins, WWE Senior Vice President, Consumer Products.

Nick Karamanos, Senior Vice President of Entertainment Partnerships, Mattel, adds: “We are very pleased that WWE has once again chosen Mattel to help bring its storied history and characters to children and fans around the world. WWE is an important partner, and we look forward to continuing our relationship for years to come.”

Return of live events helps WWE to 19 per cent growth in Q2 2021 as consumer products see marginal lift

The return of live events has helped revenue increase 19 per cent at WWE, with knock-on effects prompting lifts across the business, including the consumer products business which saw slight increases fueled by this year’s WrestleMania.

Reported in its second quarter 2021 financials, WWE has seen revenue hit $265.6 million – a lift of $42.2 million – driven by increased monetisation of content in its Media segment, as well as increases in Live Event revenue and WrestleMania, the company’s first ticketed event since Q1 2020.

Operating income for the entertainment company, however, saw a dip of 17 per cent year on year, to hit $46.3 million. This was primarily driven by higher television and event-related production expenses, $8.1 million in severance expense, and the return of employees from furlough. 

It’s still a positive outlook for the company who is celebrating “solid financial results” as it continues to focus on fan engagement. WWE announced the return of its live event touring on July 16th this year. The five events that aired throughout July have been close to full capacity, with current demand for future events on “on par with 2019.”

Meanwhile, digital video views hit a record 11.2 billion – an increase of 13 per cent – as the total hours consumer hit a new record 394 million across digital and social platforms.

“During the second quarter, we generated solid financial results as we continued to focus on building fan engagement,” said Vince McMahon, WWE chairman and CEO.

“With the announced return to live event touring and robust ticket demand, we believe we can further consumption across platforms, maximise new business opportunities and drive long-term growth.”

Kristina Salen, WWE chief financial officer, added: “In the quarter, Adjusted OIBDA results reflected an increase in television production expenses to enhance the viewing experience of WWE’s fans.

“Although Adjusted OIBDA declined, key performance metrics demonstrated positive trends and we continue to realise better than expected television production efficiences, stronger sponsorship sales and heightened demand for our live events.”

In its consumer products segment, WWE saw Q2 revenue hit $22.5 million – an increase of one per cent on the year prior – as higher toy royalties and venue merchandise sales from WrestleMania offset lower e-commerce merchandise sales.

The decrease in e-commerce sales reflected ‘a tough comparison to elevated Covid-related sales in the year before.

Barbie, Jurassic World, and Masters of the Universe help drive Mattel Q2 2021 sales to $1.03bn

The global toy maker, Mattel has seen its Q2 2021 net sales increase 40 per cent on last year, with particular success across EMEA where the firm’s growth has exceeded the industry by 11 percentage points.

Mattel bosses have billed it ‘another exceptional quarter’ having witnessed ‘outstanding consumer demand for products,’ driving its net sales for the quarter to $1.03 billion. It’s according to the latest NPD figures that Matte’s point of sale growth outpaced the industry, with ‘strong consumer demand across the portfolio.’

Across the EMEA region, the toy maker was up 54 per cent, with POS increasing double digits.

“We believe we are in the strongest position we have been in many years to improve profitability and accelerate topline growth,” said Ynon Kreiz, Chairman and CEO of Mattel. “This is an exciting time for Mattel.”

The firm’s CEO stated that the company’s performance over the quarter is now adding momentum to its transformation strategy, establishing Mattel as an “IP-driven, high-performing toy company.”

Net sales for the firm for the first six months of the year are now up 43 per cent. Gross Billings in its North America segment increased 30 per cent, driven by growth in Vehicles, including Hot Wheels, Cars, and Matchbox; Dolls including Barbie, Spirit, and Polly Pocket; Action Figures, Building Sets, Games, and Other, including Jurassic World, Masters of the Universe, WWE, and MEGA.

Its Infant, Toddler, and Preschool segment, including Fisher-Price and Thomas and Friends also performed well.

Meanwhile, net sales in the international segment increased 57 per cent, while across EMEA, Mattel outpaced the industry in the first half of 2021, growing two times faster than the industry total.

According to NPD, in Q2 alone, Mattel was up five per cent while the industry declined.

International sales have been driven by growth across Mattel’s Dolls, Vehicles, Action Figures, Building Sets, Games, and Other, as well as Infant, Toddler, and Preschool.

Worldwide Gross Billings for Dolls were $395 million, up 51 per cent versus the prior year’s second quarter, while worldwide Gross Billings for Infant, Toddler, and Preschool were $229 million, up 15 per cent on last year. This was primarily driven by Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends.

Worldwide Gross Billings for Vehicles were $266 million, up 68 per cent and driven by Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and Cars, while worldwide Gorss Billings for Action Figures, Building Sets, Games, and Other were $258 million, up 32 per cent. This was driven primarily by growth in Jurassic World, Masters of the Universe, WWE, and MEGA. It was partially off-set by Games, including UNO.

Amid the second quarter success for the toy maker, however, Mattel has been making headlines this week as bosses at the global company indicate towards upcoming price increases, following a rise in costs of raw materials and the ongoing issues around shipping and the current ‘sky-high’ prices of containers.

“We will be looking at increasing prices in the second half of [the] year,” Mattel’s chief executive Ynon Kreiz told the BBC.

“We haven’t broken out [which products will be affected], but this is in response to some of the inflationary pressures. We’re not the only ones who did it, in our industry everyone did – and no-one is surprised by [price increases].”

Mattel encountered supply chain issues due to problems with shipping but had got around the worst of them due to the scale of the business.

“We were able to leverage our size and partnerships that we have with our vendors and retail partners and mitigate some of these issues, so we did not have any impact on our business in the second quarter,” he said.

WWE taps skateboard brand Enjoi for exclusive new range as the sport readies for Olympic spotlight

WWE has tagged in the California-based skateboard brand, Enjoi as its latest licensing partner in a new deal that will see the creation of a special collection of skateboard decks featuring a variety of WWE Legends.

The partnership was first revealed on the popular skateboarding podcast, The Nine Club and will see the likes of WWE Hall of Famers Jimmy Hart, The Junkyard Dog, and Gene Okerlund feature on the first wave of decks, with additional decks featuring WWE Legend Undertaker and WWE Hall of Famers Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man Randy Savage, and Jake the Snake Roberts.

The first wave of decks will be available exclusively on thenineclub.com, while wave two will be released on enjoi.com.

The collaboration between WWE and the skateboard brand arrives during a spike in interest in the global skateboarding scene. For the first time, the sport is to be featured at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this year, placing it well within the spotlight for global audiences, while the pandemic has driven a worldwide resurgence in the hobby as audiences have either returned to the sport or taken it up for the first time under social distancing measures.

Here in the UK, skateboarding has been subject to a sweeping surge of interest, with the number of active participants somewhere between seven to nine per cent higher than the year prior. In fact, the UK skateboarding body, Skateboard GB has reported 2020 as the sport’s ‘first sell-out year in history’.

Last month, the US toymaker Jakks Pacific launched a partnership with The Heart Supply’s signature collection of ‘do-gooder brand’ skateboards, developed by the founder of Element Skateboards himself, Johnny Schillereff with the aim of making quality skateboards more inclusive, accessible and affordable to all audiences.

Meanwhile, Enjoi has previously collaborated with a diverse range of brands, including KISS and My Little Pony to create special skateboard decks for fanbases around the world.

Enjoi celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and was named Transworld’s Team of the Year in 2016.

Gallery Books to publish the rise, fall, and rise again memoirs of WWE Champion Drew McIntyre

The Simon & Schuster imprint, Gallery Books has struck a deal with WWE to publish the memoirs of the Drew McIntyre, a WWE Champion, under the title of A Chosen Destiny: My Story.

The new title will highlight McIntyre’s life journey from a small village in Scotland to the global spotlight of WWE, documenting how from a young age, he dreamed of becoming a WWE Champion.

Slated for release on May 4th, this year, A Chosen Destiny will be published simultaneously as an audiobook from Simon & Schuster Audio and will be read by the author.

The memoir will recount his younger years proving himself to the small crowds on the UK’s Butlin circuit, before making the move to the WWE at the age of 22. He was touted by WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon as The CHosen One to lead the WWE into the future.

However, a series of ill-advised choices and family tragedy saw McIntyre’s life and career spiral. Struggling under the pressure of expectations, he was eventually released from WWE. But, buoyed by the support of his wife and the memory of his beloved mother, McIntyre embarked on a mission to recharge, reinvent and revitalize himself to fulfill his destiny.

“Throughout my career, I have always had an honest and open relationship with my fans,” said WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. “I am honored that Gallery Books has given me the opportunity to tell my story in hopes of inspiring others around the world to follow their dreams.”

“Drew McIntyre has captivated WWE fans everywhere with his explosive popularity and persona in and out of the ring,” said Ed Schlesinger, senior editor, licensing manager for Gallery Books. “We’re incredibly thrilled to be partnering with him and WWE to present his unforgettable, no-holds-barred story of making it to the top as World Champion.”

WWE teams with games developer nWay to launch WWE Undefeated on mobile

Mobile, consoles, and PC games developer nWay – a subsidiary of Animoca Brands – has partnered with WWE to launch the latest mobile game for the franchise, titles WWE Undefeated. The new launch features real-time head-to-head competition and features WWE Superstars and Legends.

Developed by nWay, the developer and publisher of hit multiplayer games such as Power Rangers: Legacy Wars and Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, WWE Undefeated features quick-session matches designed for mobile devices, set against exotic backdrops from around the world.

Players can also compete head-to-head in real-time with live opponents while experiencing the action, signature moves, and larger-than-life Superstars synonymous with WWE.

“nWay is a leader in making real-time competitive multiplayer games and we could not be more excited to partner with WWE to deliver an over-the-top experience,” said Taehoon Kim, CEO of nWay. “Combining synchronous PvP gameplay with the ability to collect and upgrade signature moves of WWE Superstars makes Undefeated the ultimate WWE mobile game fans have been waiting for.”

Sarah Cummins, WWE senior vice president, consumer products, added: “nWay’s strong reputation for developing quality multiplayer games makes them a natural partner for us. WWE Undefeated will allow our fans to connect with their favorite Superstars and Legends in a fun and action-packed setting on their mobile devices.”

Players can pre-register to unlock special rewards by visiting wweundefeated.com.

WWE partners with My Custom Sport Chair to launch wrestling heroes line-up

WWE and chairs usually only collide when one is being smashed over the head of a muscle-clad monster, prancing about ringside in his leather underwear to the cheers of a blood-thirsty crowd. That was until the sport and entertainment franchise met My Custom Sports Chair, of course.

The result? A range of chairs you’re not going to want to smash up. That’s right, WWE and My Custom Sports Chair have partnered to create a series of custom, folding Adirondack Chairs featuring the imagery and logos of some of the greatest WWE Superstars to walk the ring. Triple H, Roman Reigns, John Cena, The Rock, and Undertaker all feature, alongside WWE Hall of Famers Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ric Flair, The Ultimate Warrior, and Macho Man Randy Savage.

This is the latest in sporting franchises to have signed with My Custom Sports Chair, who already enjoys partnerships with the likes of the NFL, MLB, NCAA, NHL, and Nascar. Its collection makes up the only officially licensed, fully customisable Adirondack sports chair on the market.

Weather tested for all year round use, each chair is made with HDPE recycled resin which prevents warping, fading and splintering, making them ideal for use in the back garden, on the patio, in the recreation room, or any other setting in which a chair could be of use.

 All products are manufactured and assembled in Stoney Creek, ON, Canada with over 60,000 units in market since 2015.