For years, professional athletes have profited by licensing their name, image, and likeness in videogames, trading cards, apparel, and even non-sports related goods and services. However, the scope of sports licensing has been changing over the past few years. Due to technological advancement, digitization, and the rapid growth of esports, additional licensing opportunities are afoot.
According to the WSJ, the “players associations of the National Football League and Major League Baseball have struck a deal with RedBird Capital Partners to form a new company, OneTeam Partners, centered around the management of the players’ portrayals.” Their mission is to “empower world-class athletes to own their individual and collective intellectual property.”
OneTeam Partners intends to work with all types of professional athletes to expand the current licensing landscape internationally to include mobile games, digital trading cards, and esports. This will allow traditional and esports athletes worldwide to develop additional revenue streams through a wider range of licensed platforms and products. Additionally, California’s recent law allowing college athletes to profit off their right of publicity places OneTeam Partners in a unique position to assist and profit off college athletes’ names and likenesses.
What affect does this have on the value of athletes’ right of publicity? Given that the geographical region and scope of licensing deals are expanding, it is assumed that players will see a significant increase in their right of publicity value, especially for college athletes and esport competitors. However, how do you quantify the value of a single or group of all-star athletes? We have worked with the NFL and the NFLPA to quantify these values and have worked with the NCAA and NHL athletes to do the same.
Knowing the value of your brand is imperative when structuring deals or tracking a return on investment. Understand that different types of investments require different levels of returns. Mature, established brands have more leverage in the negotiation process, can control higher royalty rates, and may require a premium.