Topps teams up with the PTPA for the first group licensing agreement in tennis history
The GIST: Fanatics’ latest deal might mean a whole new world for tennis. Yesterday, the retail company’s subsidiary Topps teamed up with the Winners Alliance, the for-profit arm of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), for the first group licensing agreement in the sport’s history.
The organization: Founded in 2021 by ATP Tour members Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil, the PTPA is a union-like organization trying to represent tennis players’ commercial interests better than the ATP and WTA. The PTPA does occasionally butt heads with the ATP but isn’t trying to pull a LIV Golf.
- Though most tennis players have stayed away from the PTPA, the association does count WTA No. 5 Ons Jabeur and No. 29 Paula Badosa as executive committee members and hopes the Fanatics deal will help court new members.
The details: Topps will produce trading cards and digital assets, with the first batch possibly available in time for August’s U.S. Open. All PTPA athletes who opt into the deal will earn a slice of the $100M-plus royalties pie and can sign individual contracts with the brand for limited-edition memorabilia.
- The PTPA hopes to add more players to the group licensing deal through conversations at this week’s Miami Open and is also eyeing the video game industry. Fancy a round of Wii tennis?
The context: Yesterday’s deal is a fraction of the value of similar deals in major American leagues but is also brand new terrain for tennis. Group licensing deals are more commonplace in leagues with player unions — like the WNBA and NWSL — compared to sports like tennis and golf where athletes are independent contractors.
Zooming out: Thanks to this deal, the PTPA may emerge as a major player in tennis, albeit in less controversial fashion than LIV Golf. As the sport contemplates how to capitalize on its massive fanbase, tennis’ power brokers should agree on one thing — including men and women is crucial to financial success. Better together.