Fanatics just wrapped up a $700-million investment round, bringing their valuation to $31 billion, and announced that they will start Fanatics Live later in 2023.
Fanatics, who already owns subsidiaries such as Lids and Mitchell & Ness, plans to use the funds to acquire other brands in the collectibles space while developing the live platform and other opportunities such as sports gambling.
Last year, the company acquired Topps for $500 million, and plans to leverage that in hopes to bring a new perspective to the live-streaming world, and take advantage of what they see as an untapped market.The company also is planning to hire former Snap Inc. head of global content and partnerships, Nick Bell to head the Fanatics Live addition.
Bell feels that with the revenue generated by Asia's version of TikTok (over 119 billion in 2021, tripling YOY), and only 31% of American's have heard of live-stream shopping, the market is ready.
Bell said that while live-streaming and social commerce “hasn’t taken off yet” in the U.S., “it’s just inevitable that it is going to happen.”
“There’s a lot of development to do around the format – shopping should become a byproduct of entertainment rather than how I think a lot of folks have been thinking about it, which is more akin to how we would think about QVC where it’s just about the shopping,” Bell said. “I think we’re moving to a slightly different world where it’s actually about the content and the community, and the shopping is the byproduct.”
And he may not be wrong...
According to Core Sight Research, the live-stream market is expected to grow 32 billion this year which would be 6 billion above 2020, when everyone had no choice but to live-stream their shopping.
Fanatics is focused on a different type of stream than some of us in the hobby may be used to from the likes of Loupe, and WhatNot, where they will soley be focused on trading cards from the jump and the content being produced.
On other platforms it can feel daunting at times, so the simplicity that Fanatics Live will bring.
But....this is Fanatics we are talking about, and given the sports licensing contracts they have secured, their collectibles marketplace, exclusive partnerships with elite athletes, and a fan database of more than 94 million...its just a matter of time before we are able to buy and sell all collectibles.
Either way, I am excited for it, and am a fan of Fanatics evolving the collectibles space.