The partnership includes E-commerce and licensed merchandise, the core of the Fanatics business, but also trading cards, memorabilia and NFTs, all more recent priorities for Michael Rubin’s company. It comes a week before WrestleMania, one of the biggest events on the WWE calendar.
Terms of the partnership weren’t provided.
WWE eclipsed $1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2021 and is targeting another record in 2022 as it returns to a full schedule of ticketed, in-person events. The stock (NYSE: WWE) is up about 22% so far this year.
“Fanatics is the industry leader and Michael Rubin is a visionary,” WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon said in a statement. “We believe this multiplatform 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.”
The world’s largest seller of licensed sports apparel, Fanatics has dramatically expanded its business over the past two years via acquisitions and new verticals. Two of the biggest moves are a new $1.5 billion NFT platform called Candy Digital, and a new $10.4 billion trading card company. The full Fanatics business was worth $6.2 billion in Aug. 2020; it recently raised money at a $27 billion valuation, making it one of the 15 most valuable private companies on the planet.
WWE is one of the rare major sports entities that still handles its E-commerce in-house—Fanatics will take over those operations this summer. Fanatics is also securing product rights, a similar setup to what the company has with the other major U.S. leagues.
Fanatics Collectibles will be the exclusive provider of WWE’s physical and digital trading cards, which will be made under the Topps brand. Those rights will kick in following the end of WWE’s current partnership with Panini a few years from now. Candy Digital will become one of the WWE’s primary NFT partners.