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The NFL and Nike have signed a giant 10-year deal with online retailer Fanatics

The pact is aimed at revving up the league’s on-demand manufacturing capabilities.

#13 Odell Beckham of the New York Giants celebrates a touchdown by spiking the ball Jeff Zelevansky / Getty
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

The National Football League wants in on the instant gratification trend, so it’s turning to the online retailer and manufacturer Fanatics to make it happen.

The NFL, along with Nike, has inked a 10-year licensing deal that will make Fanatics the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of all Nike-branded NFL fan merchandise — except for kids’ clothes — starting in 2020.

That means that all adult NFL Nike gear — other than the jerseys and apparel worn by players and coaches on the field — will be produced by Fanatics.

The goal, according to NFL Senior Vice President for Consumer Products Michelle Micone, is to be able to get gear into the hands of fans as fast as possible when new storylines spur demand — like when an unheralded rookie becomes a star player, or a team that was expected to perform poorly ends up having a breakout season.

“We want to have the NFL Shop be the place where ... anytime a fan wants to buy something, it’s there,” Micone said. “Just that instant gratification.”

The Nike gear made by Fanatics will be sold online through and each team website — all of which Fanatics operates — as well as The goods will also be distributed to retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods for sale in brick-and-mortar stores.

The partnership comes as retail sectors from grocery to fashion are being upended by a new generation of consumers that expect to be able to purchase any goods from any device at any time — and have them delivered within a couple of days, if not sooner.

Over the last 18 months, Fanatics has invested heavily in its on-demand manufacturing capabilities in an attempt to make the missed revenue opportunities for leagues and teams caused by out-of-stock issues a thing of the past. Last year, Fanatics paid around $225 million to buy the sports apparel maker Majestic as part of this initiative.

Fanatics and Major League Baseball announced in late 2016 a similar deal to the new NFL one that also begins in 2020. Both the NFL and MLB own minority stakes in Fanatics.

Fanatics has raised about $1.7 billion from investors, and was valued at $4.5 billion when SoftBank pumped $1 billion into the company last summer. Its executive chairman, Michael Rubin, is a minority owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, and this year made an unsuccessful bid to buy a majority stake in the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.


Here’s an interview from Recode’s 2017 Code Commerce conference where Rubin and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver talk about a new partnership between the two businesses:

This article originally appeared on

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