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Fanatics' next plays: build brand awareness and bundle services

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: Mike Windle/Getty Images for Airbnb.

Fanatics, after spending more than a decade building a global digital sports platform, is integrating its businesses with the aim of offering packaged services to both fans and partners, new board director Jonathan Mildenhall tells Axios.

  • To illustrate this, the company just signed a deal with the WWE that includes trading card rights, NFTs, e-commerce and licensed merchandise.

Why it matters: By putting together those pieces, Mildenhall believes that Fanatics could become a $100 billion company. Its most recent valuation is $27 billion.

Of note: Mildenhall, who joined the Fanatics board in May, has been a marketing executive for 33 years, serving senior roles at Coca-Cola and Airbnb.

Details: The idea is to develop a narrative for Fanatics that transcends sports and embraces all things fandom, eventually lifting the brand to the level of Nike or Disney, Mildenhall says.

  • "I’ve already started the process of working with those inside the business, to bring in the right marketing expertise, without compromising the independent nature of my seat," he explains.
  • That could end up including the addition of ad agencies or bulking up the marketing team.
  • "Over time we can address anything people 'fan-out' about," Mildenhall says, adding that music and entertainment are included in that list.

The big picture: With 100 million customers in its database, Fanatics' goal is to build a community within the company's ecosystem.

  • As an example of how Fanatics would cater to that community, it offered customers who purchased $250 of merchandise or more, including an Atlanta Braves item, a free commemorative World Series NFT.

What's next: After hiring former Warner Music Group executive Dan Goldberg, Fanatics is expanding further into music and entertainment, and will eventually add ticketing and media to its offerings.

Meanwhile, as for an anticipated public offering, a spokesperson said, “While an IPO is clearly an available option to us, there is no update on any timeline."

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