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Dallas Cowboys, Fanatics ink 10-year deal to run online store

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The Dallas Cowboys, the most valuable sports franchise in the world, have signed a 10-year exclusive merchandise partnership with Fanatics.

Under the deal, the e-commerce giant will operate the online and mobile fan shop for the Cowboys. It will also have co-branded opportunities across the team’s media channels, around its stadium and throughout its sprawling complex in nearby Frisco.

It’s a break from recent practice for the franchise, nicknamed “America’s Team,” which has long operated its own e-commerce platform. The team’s licensing revenue is more than double the next closest NFL club.

“The Dallas Cowboys have always strived to be at the top of our game with new, innovative ways to reach our fans with our merchandise,” Dallas Cowboys Merchandising COO Tim Burkhart said in a statement. “Having the official Dallas Cowboys online Pro Shop aligned with the NFL online shop helps ensure a consistent and expansive product assortment, while delivering an exceptional brand experience for the Dallas Cowboys fans.”

Owned by billionaire Michael Rubin, Fanatics operates the online stores for the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, and many of its franchises. In some of those league deals, team e-commerce comes as part of the package, while in the NFL, teams are free to work with whomever they want. With this deal, Fanatics now runs e-commerce for 26 of the NFL’s 32 teams. (The Cowboys are a founding partner in Legends, which also does e-commerce operations for franchises around the world).

Financial specifics of the agreement weren’t released.

The Cowboys’ approach to its merchandise and licensing operations has long differed from the rest of the league. In 2002, owner Jerry Jones opted out of the NFL’s new deal with Reebok because he believed an even split of revenue wasn’t fair, and the team has since operated its own licensing business, while paying a set percentage back into the NFL’s revenue sharing pool. Fanatics has been a partner in that model as a retailer of Cowboys product.

Fanatics is the world’s largest seller of licensed sports apparel, but it has been busy over the past year exploring potential opportunities outside its core business. That includes a handful of prominent hires, a new NFT company and a future sportsbook. Its most impactful new vertical, however, is in trading cards, where the company secured rights from the MLB, MLBPA, NBA, NBPA and NFLPA, which shocked the industry and ultimately scuttled potential SPAC acquisitions of both Topps and Panini.

Fanatics was recently valued at $18 billion in a funding round and is expected to go public in the future.

With reporting from Kurt Badenhausen.

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