Following in the wake of MLB and Topps entering a multi-year exclusivity deal making Topps the Official Baseball Card of Major League Baseball, Upper Deck reaffirmed their July 2, 2009 agreement with the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) for the upcoming 2010 season.
"Looking ahead to 2010, we are 100% committed to building the highest quality and most innovative baseball cards in the industry," said Upper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam. "We look forward to announcing more details on our product portfolio in the coming weeks."
"We're looking forward to continuing the partnership with Upper Deck, a licensee that is clearly focused on the long-term growth of the trading card category," said Judy Heeter, MLBPA Director of Business Affairs & Licensing. "We believe strong competition is generally good for consumers, and expect that our ongoing relationships with both Topps and Upper Deck will ensure consumer choices that lead to category growth."
Analysts and collectors were trying to ascertain the impact of the exclusivity agreement between Topps and MLB Properties. The agreement means that other card manufacturers such as Upper Deck will be unable to use the MLB and club logos on their cards. However, players can be shown on the cards with their stats, but without being in their team uniform and cap.
MLB now joins the NBA and NHL as having exclusivity agreements for player cards. MLB framed the exclusive agreement with Topps as removing confusion and strengthening its connection with kids. Upper Deck made the same claim today stating that they have committed more than $21 million to increase kids' interest in baseball cards. Through annual television advertising campaigns, numerous retail promotions and online initiatives such as Upper Deck's Kids Rewards and the current UpperDeckU.com virtual world, the company claims that they have "led the way in dramatically increasing household penetration of kids collecting sports cards from 8% in 2005 to a reported 44% in 2008."
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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