The American division of trading cards company Panini has announced a project with the National Football League (NFL) for the launch of the league’s player collectible card packs as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Previously, Panini America was already minting NFL trading cards of the week’s best player performances.
The NFL has been fairly busy in the digital asset sector. The league was relatively late to the game compared to other major American sports leagues and teams that began launching NFT initiatives earlier this year. For example, MLB Topps on WAX, Sorare’s deals with most MLS clubs, and NBA Top Shot, which has been operating live for over a year.
However, since the NFL broke the seal with a partnership with Dapper Labs for in-game moments minted as NFTs, the NFL and its teams are now minting NFTs for ticketholders in collaboration with Ticketmaster. And the expansion of Panini’s trading card partnership into blockchain was an expected and inevitable continuation of this trend.
Panini is one of the most well-known sports cards collectibles companies in the world. It has had an exclusive partnership with the NFL for physical trading cards since 2015. The company is especially recognized for the traditional team player cards collections, such as FIFA Official sticker collection, which generated almost $1 billion in revenue alone during the 2014 World Cup.
The digital NFL trading cards will be available in packs or as individual cards at a fixed price on Panini’s private blockchain platform. Fans will also have an opportunity to auction or buy player cards off each other in order to complete collections, just like in traditional player card collecting.
“The NFT marketplace has exploded right alongside the physical trading card market across all sports over the last several months and the introduction of NFL NFT trading card packs will only make the marketplace that much more vibrant,” said Mark Warsop, Panini America CEO. “We’re tremendously excited about the potential of this space and look forward to using the power of the NFL to continue growing the market.”
Meanwhile, Panini also had an exclusive partnership with the NBA, but it lost out on the renewal of contracts to Fanatics earlier this year. While it didn’t get a hold of the NFL, Fanatics also got into a collectibles agreement with the MLB. Fanatics is the major shareholder in sports NFT platform Candy.