It’s being reported that Topps has renewed their exclusive licence with Major League Baseball. The Exclusive Licence, which Topps has owned since 2009, was set to expire in 2020.
It was widely speculated that there would be a major bidding war between Topps and brands such as Panini, Leaf, and Upper Deck, all of whom would love to skip the airbrushing while making their MLB products. It appears that war has already been won.
As first reported by Sports Card Radio (via Wax Heaven), “Last week I had long conversations with two high-level executives from different companies producing “unlicenced” baseball cards and both gave me the same exact grim news….Topps’ exclusive deal with MLB has already been renewed well beyond 2020.”
Neither Topps or MLB have made any announcement on the licence, but the rumor does come awfully close to this years National Sports Collectors Convention, Aug 1-5. However, the lack of a “bidding war” is awfully surprising, as many companies were pushing hard for that licence.
Panini in particular was expected to be serious contenders for the MLB Licence, as they have worked incredibly hard the last few years to strengthen their baseball card division, and are the only company that could probably compete with Topps from a financial standpoint.
The renewal with Topps could have a ripple effect throughout the hobby. Companies such as Panini, Leaf and others who make non-licence cards could decide to move on from the MLB market, much like Topps did when Panini landed the NFL Exclusive Licence.
We will update with any additional information as this story continues to develop.