Fanatics is launching a new business division, Fanatics Live, to capitalize on the growing trend of consumers buying product directly off of streaming video.
Michael Rubin’s company, which is rapidly expanding into new verticals, has hired former Snap executive Nick Bell to be CEO of the venture. It will launch in the second half of the year, starting with the company’s memorabilia and collectibles products.
Fanatics Live will operate an online shopping channel, like a digital QVC. These platforms are popular in other parts of the world, particularly in Asia, as a blend of ecommerce and live video. They’re an offshoot of social commerce, which is projected to grow into a $1.2 trillion business by 2025, according to a recent study from Accenture.
As a specific example, Fanatics Live will include what’s known in the industry as “breaking,” where people invest in trading cards packs that are then opened live on video. Fanatics intends to work with athletes and broader celebrities to create shopping content on the platform.
Bell, whose prior stops include Google as well as Snap, will be based in LA and will report to new Fanatics Collectibles CEO Mike Mahan. Fanatics Live will be a separate business venture, however, and could eventually branch out into other areas, such as clothing and hard goods.
The world’s largest seller of licensed sports apparel, Fanatics is expanding its business in new directions, including sports betting and trading cards. Those moves, which include high-profile hires and acquisitions, have been accompanied by a series of fundraising rounds. The most recent, in December, valued the company at $31 billion.
Fanatics has billion-dollar aspirations for its collectibles arm, which includes its recent purchase of Topps, licensing rights from some of most popular U.S. leagues, and a growing stable of exclusive athletes, including Steph Curry, Aaron Judge and Tom Brady.
Social commerce is so far less popular in the U.S. than in Asia, where it was a $423 billion market in 2022, according to data from Research and Markets. One of the biggest U.S. platforms is Whatnot, where people sell everything from sports memorabilia and NFTs to watches and coins. Whatnot was valued at nearly $4 billion last year.
Fanatics Live will be hosted in a separate app but will also be available via desktop.
With assistance from Jacob Feldman.