Global sports merchandising specialist Fanatics has made its first foray into esports, signing a major multi-year partnership with the Overwatch League.
The agreement will come into effect ahead of the 2019 Overwatch League season, which gets underway on 14th February. It represents a first-of-its-kind partnership between a major retailer and an official esports league.
The deal gives Fanatics international rights to produce Overwatch League jerseys, fan gear, headwear and hard goods across all retail and wholesale channels.
The retailer now plans to establish a new global e-commerce and mobile shopping platform and operate on-site retail for all league events, with a significantly expanded assortment of products.
Both parties plan to work collaboratively to identify and secure additional companies to grow the overall assortment of high-quality products available to fans.
Commenting on the landmark agreement, Ross Tannenbaum, head of special projects for Fanatics said: “Esports has been on our radar for some time now and we are incredibly excited to mark our first deal with the best in the world in Activision Blizzard around their incredibly successful Overwatch League.
“Our omnichannel retail capabilities and real-time vertical manufacturing model will ensure that Overwatch League fans across the globe have unprecedented access to a wide assortment of merchandise to be able to show their passion and pride for the teams and players they love, whether shopping online, on their phone, or at one of many league events.”
Daniel Siegel, head of esports licensing for Blizzard Entertainment, added: “The demand for team gear during our inaugural season was very strong.
“A significant number of fans - for regular-season matches at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles and at the Grand Finals in Brooklyn - showed up in jerseys to support their teams, and we’re thrilled to make it even easier for them to represent their favourite teams and players.”
The new online storefronts will become the first to sell merchandise for the Overwatch League’s new expansion teams, which includes Atlanta Reign, Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Paris Eternal, Toronto Defiant, Vancouver Titans, and the Washington Justice.
Fanatics will operate on-site retail stores for all Overwatch League regular-season matches at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles and for other league events.
Last month Sport Industry Group sat down with Masanori Kawana, managing director of Fanatics in Japan and South-East Asia, about the benefits of Fanatics’ much vaunted “vertical commerce” model and how it caters for today’s on-demand culture.
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