Sal LaRocca, the NBA’s executive VP of global merchandising, told CNBC.com that the league would like to have Panini release as few as 12 trading card products next season under its new exclusive trading card license.
“The feedback we were getting was that so many products were coming out, that each company was trying to beat each other to the marketplace, and it was impossible to sell through and there were more returns,” LaRocca told CNBC.com’s Darren Rovell. “Everyone knew the model was broken and that the current structure wasn’t working so exclusivity provided us the opportunity to change that model.”
LaRocca also said the fact Panini isn’t a well-known name in the U.S. collectibles market shouldn’t make a difference once the products hit the market. “Who made the Honus Wagner card? Most people don’t know that, but it’s the most valuable card out there,” LaRocca said. “Who made the first Michael Jordan rookie? Fleer, a company that doesn’t exist anymore. Panini is a great partner, a $1 billion company, but brand name, in the beginning, doesn’t matter. Quality is important. And with Panini, there will be excitement like we haven’t seen in a long time. It will be a new set of firsts for everything.”
LaRocca said the deal shows the NBA isn’t interested in “running around on the treadmill, and doing the same thing over and over again,” but added that the ultimate reason for choosing Panini is because it was what was best for the league.