09/23/19: Panini America talks about its partnership with Zion Williamson


Monday, September 23, 2019
With the NBA preseason set to tip off in a week, Panini America, one of the storylines will be on the latest crop of talent to be brought the league this season, especially top draft pick Zion Williamson. As such, Williamson’s partners are revving up their own marketing plans for the former Duke player, including Panini America, the world’s largest licensed sports and entertainment collectibles company, which inked Williamson to an exclusive trading card agreement last month to feature Williamson’s only licensed college and NBA trading cards and autograph cards. His first officially licensed NBA autographs will release in October with the arrival of the 2019-20 NBA Hoops Basketball product, as well as Panini’s 25 additional NBA trading card products released during the season.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Jason Howarth Vice President of Marketing for Panini America, about their plans for Williamson and the state of the trading card industry.
Howarth on the state of the trading card industry: The trading card category has never been healthier than it is right now.   We’ve seen new consumers come into the category as our products reach more and more people through hobby stores, mass retail like Walmart and Target and online retailers, along with Casebreakers (community where people open up products via livestream).  Our biggest challenge is demand is higher than supply right now because we are committed to maintaining the value of Panini trading products across all sports (NBA, NFL, EPL, NASCAR and Collegiate) which are built on scarcity – so we have to strike a very delicate balance.
On the biggest reason for optimism: With the increased popularity of trading cards we are seeing younger collectors come into the market – not just in the U.S. but other markets including China, Australia and Europe.
On Zion’s impact the business: JH: The global marketplace is really excited about this NBA Rookie Class including players like Ja Morant, RJ Barrett, Rue Hachimura (1st Japanese NBA Player) and Zion leads the way.  The early marketplace for Zion with our Contenders Draft Picks product – where he and other athletes are featured in their collegiate uniforms has seen autographed versions of his trading cards selling on the secondary market anywhere from $800-$3,000 regularly. Zion is a generational athlete – in the truest sense, he has the potential to bring new collectors into the marketplace and to get people that haven’t thought about trading cards going out to try and get one of his Rookie cards.
On plans: We have been very deliberate with our approach beginning with announcing Zion as an exclusive autographed trading card athlete by timing it as we went into the Panini NBA Rookie Photo Shoot this August which consisted of several days of capturing content that we shared on our social platforms of him signing our trading cards and taking part in the photo shoot along with other rookies.
When we roll-out our marketing efforts for the 2019-20 NBA season you will see customized content that we have developed around each of the key individual rookies including Zion.
Our Panini Instant platform, our real-time direct to consumer platform that celebrates key events and milestones as they happen, will follow Zion throughout the season and we will create cards for him around each of his key performances along with other rookies so consumers can get his trading cards.  You will also be able to collect Zion cards in our digital trading card app – Panini Dunk. As for the years ahead – we really can’t go into that too much without giving away our playbook, but we have plans to capitalize on the global market and Zion’s success

Georgia’s win over Notre Dame on Saturday handed CBS Sports with the highest-rated college football game on any network this season earning an average household metered market rating/share of 6.2/13. In addition, that score ranked as the highest-rated college football game on CBS in the month of September in six years.
FOX Sports reports its own top score for its noon telecast for Wisconsin’s win over Michigan. The matchup delivered a 3.5 metered market rating, according to Nielsen. College games on FOX are up 71% through four week in the window, and up 44% overall in metered markets.
Speaking of FOX, the company will carry Thursday Night Football in 4K Ultra High Definition for the 2019 NFL season, making Thursday night match-ups available through the FOX Sports and FOX NOW apps, via Apple TV 4K and select Roku devices. The news had been expected as DIRECTV had unveiled its 4K plans, with the slate beginning Sept. 26 with the Eagles/Packers. In addition, the 4K broadcast is available through other FOX Sports distributors, including Altice Optimum, Comcast Xfinity, Verizon Fios, TVision and fuboTV.
ESPN entrenched its college football conference championship schedule, announcing that the 2019 Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship from AT&T Stadium will take place at noon and Saturday Night Football’s season finale will feature the 2019 ACC Championship Game from Bank of America Stadium at 7:30p on Dec. 7. Both games will run on ABC. The network’s four-game regular season championship weekend slate is now set, which begins with the 2019 Pac-12 Championship from Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.), at 8p on Dec. 6, and includes the American Athletic Conference Championship from a campus location at 3:30p the following day – in between the previously mentioned Big 12 and ACC games.
Telemundo Deportes presents live coverage of The Best FIFA Football Awards tonight.  The event that celebrates soccer’s greatest will air on Universo and Telemundo Deportes digital platforms at 2:25p with this year’s event hosted by Italian journalist Ilaria D’Amico and AC Milan legend Rudd Gullit. The ceremony will feature 11 categories in total, highlighted by two new awards recognizing excellence in women’s soccer including Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper and FIFA FIFPro Women’s World11. Telemundo Deportes’ Ana Jurka, Sammy Sadovnik and Karim Mendiburu will host the live coverage alongside Carlota Vizmanos reporting from Milan.
ESPN added a Wednesday, Sept. 25 doubleheader to its schedule, picking up the Yankees/Rays game with Karl Ravech set to call the game at 7 p on ESPN alongside analysts Eduardo Perez and Tim Kurkjian. At 10p, the channel will sees the Athletics/Angels. Jon Sciambi and David Ross will call the game.
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Machine tool manufacturer Cincinnati Inc. joined 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports as an official partner courtesy of a team record 10-year agreement that runs through the 2028 racing season. Cincinnati will be showcased as primary sponsor of driver Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the Oct. 6 Cup Series playoff race at Dover International Speedway as well as in two events in 2020. In addition to being named Hendrick Motorsports’ Official Metal Fabrication and Additive Equipment Provider, the Ohio-based company will become a full-season associate sponsor of the team’s entire four-car stable for the next decade.
The LA Clippers inked a multi-year deal with technology company Honey that includes the renaming of the newly-renovated “Honey Training Center: Home of the L.A. Clippers.” “LA is home for Honey. The company was founded here and we’re currently building out our new headquarters in the Arts District,” said Honey co-founder and CEO George Ruan. “We’re deeply invested in the success of this city and are proud to be partnering with the L.A. Clippers, because of their commitment to making a positive impact on LA.”
Ahead of the October 1 premiere of the HBO film Diego Maradona, the network will serve up a museum quality pop-up exhibit in New York city that celebrates the life of the famed athlete. The exhibit will take place at the 93rd annual Feast of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, where Maradona spent seven seasons of his career with S.S.C. Napoli.

The NLL Draft, streamed live on Bleacher Report Live, saw key audience metrics swell significantly over the 2018 draft. According to the league, unique viewers grew 46%, the average viewing time was up 90% and average minute audience increased 177% versus last year’s event. Live coverage of the first two rounds on Facebook and Twitter, not offered for the 2018 draft, delivered additional impressions that increased total video views of the draft nearly 20-fold year over year. 

OverActive Media appears poised to shut down the Splyce brand as part of a restructuring within the company, according to Dexerto. The long-running esports team brand had been purchased by OAM in November of last year, with the company opting to focus on its Toronto themed brands.
Riot Games will reportedly see luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton serve as a partner for the 2019 League of Legends World Championship, where they will create a “one-of-a-kind” Louis Vuitton-branded trophy case to host the Summoner’s Cup. “The bespoke trunk, the first of its kind for an esports championship, will feature both traditional Louis Vuitton savoir-faire along with cutting-edge, high-tech elements inspired by the League of Legends universe,” according to the announcement that ran on the site. In addition, players will receive unique champion skins and a capsule collection designed by Nicolas Ghesquière, who serves as Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections.
The end of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series sees Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., parent company to IndyCar, focus on 2020 with esports on his mind, telling NBC Sports that as part of a partnership with Microsoft and Forza for their Bounty Hunter challenge, “700,000 downloads of the Forza 7 game occurred as part of this initiative, and the Forza team told us that given the link – that it was not a new introduction in terms of a game – it was the biggest number they saw for downloads in their experience in the space so far. That bodes well for us, I think.” He added that “The last few months we’ve done a lot of work to decide what our strategy ought to look like for esport. We’re not going to get into that today, but you will see us stepping up and getting more into the esports space next year for sure.”
The Season 8 Rocket League World Championship is returning to Europe, with Psyonix announcing that the event will run December 13-15 in Madrid, Spain at the Palacio Vistalegre. More information, such as when tickets go live, will be revealed at a later date.

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Robert L. Plummer and Alan Smolinisky have joined its ownership group “The two newest members are both civic-minded, accomplished businessmen and lifelong Dodger fans,” said Dodgers Chairman and owner Mark Walter.  “We are proud of having built a very strong ownership group, and Robert and Alan will certainly add to that strength.  I look forward to having them join us for this exciting post-season run in October.”

Bears/Redskins on ESPN at 8p.
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ON THIS DAY in 1984
Sparky Anderson becomes the first MLB manager to win 100 games in each of the leagues.

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Patrick Ewing wore #33 for all but one of his teams. For which pro team did he wear #6? Answer: Orlando Magic, although he also wore that number for the US Olympic team. Kudos: Keith Marder-Halstead Real Estate/NY; Eddie Hill-BBC America/NY; Luke Tarby-A+E Networks/NY; Michael Ritz-Northwestern Mutual/NY; Jonny Codalata-CSM Sport & Entertainment/Indianapolis; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; Patrick McOwen-Comcast Spotlight/North Wales; Russ DelCor-a4 Media/Oakland; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Dan Weiner- Condé Nast/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank

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