If you havent been following along over the last year, things are going to be changing in physical football cards. Panini America, a competitor of Topps, has signed an NFL and NFLPA exclusive deal for the rights to produce physical football cards. You might be wondering how this could impact Topps and Huddle, so Im going to do my best to quell any unrest.
From every indication we have received from the Topps Digital team , they have said that Topps Digital is NOT impacted by the NFL exclusive granted in physical cards. In the opening Q&A for the year, they addressed this question. I would guess that because the licenses for digital and physical are negotiated separately, it means that Huddle will continue as planned, and should not be impacted in any way through the course of the recent deal they secured to become NFL licensed. Once that deal is over, its up to negotiations with the league.
Importance of Huddle’s NFL Deal
It should be abundantly clear that Topps Digital is exposing thousands of new people to trading cards with each of their apps, and Huddle is no different. With an NFL deal in place for 2016, the app has become one of the most important assets in the portfolio, regardless of performance in comparison to the other games.
Topps has been producing football cards for 60 years, as we have seen with the anniversary series released each week, and thanks to Huddle, that storied history will continue to be a force in a modern format. Millions of people continue to use smart phones and tablets as a way to connect with the world, play games, and stay up on current events. Huddle and the Topps Digital apps bring trading cards into that age.
Potentially, if they remain the sole licensed entity for Topps in football come 2016, the app is more important to the future of the company than ever before. New designs, new players, and new content would only be available in digital form, and for the readers of this site, that might come as a surprise. Considering that the physcial side of trading cards as a whole hasnt been performing well over the last 10 years, maybe its time to figure out how digital might be the future of this industry.
Future of the Business
There is no doubt that Topps Digital is a force that Panini will look to try to rip off, as they have already tried in an unsuccessful way a few times. Because Topps was first to market, users have come to understand the way digital cards should be. Panini will not be able to overcome that easily, if at all, putting them at a HUGE disadvantage should they ever try to create their own football app.
I could see Huddle being a big name on their target list, as they know Topps Digital’s existence undermines the massive and irresponsible investment they made on the physical side. Of course, the fact that Topps continues to make improvements and positive changes to their apps means that any engagement from other companies is likely going to be met with a barrage of challenges from an entrenched user base.
In the end, we are far away from the time that I would start to worry. Huddle expects to be around for the long haul, and I have no problem trusting their determination. With Daily Fantasy and other fantasy elements DOMINATING the sports landscapes, Huddle remains an outlet that should get more popular as the years go on. Im good with that.