Thursday, January 29, 2009

Let's Wait and See

After leaving this comment on a post by Dave at Fielder's Choice I realized it would make a nice post all on its own.

I agree with the point that the NBA should have added Panini to the mix initially, instead of going exclusive with no experience in the market. However, on several points I disagree.

This is designing trading cards not building a skyscraper, rocket, or solving quantum physics equations. Its cards. Even with my limited ability in graphic arts I have shown that you can cut and past togehter some impressive looking cards. To think that "how are they possibly going to be able to match Upper Deck’s high end products? That is simply an impossibility" is absolutely ridiculous and overkill.

As far as the bigger picture, other than soccer, outside the US, no other sport has the global reach that basketball does. Period. No possible argument there, right?
David Stern has been pushing the globalization of the game for years with great success. The NBA simply decided to partner with a company that can deliver it's product to a larger audience outside the US. Topps and Upper Deck do very little overseas marketing and had niched themselves into producing cards for the American market. That market tends to be focused a bit more on high-end products which is true, as you stated.

However, there are entire continents outside the US who do not have disposable income like Americans to spend on trading cards, yet love basketball and are collectors. What does the NBA do? They make a sound business decision to go for higher quanity (much much higher) and less quality becuase in the end its all about money.That's why trading card companies and licensing agreements exist. To make money, plain and simple. The NBA decided they would rather have the opportunity to have their licensed product sold by a company that can sell a $20 to $40 box of cards to 30,000,0000 people than a $100,$200,$300, or $500 box to 10,0000 people. Makes all the sense in the world to me.

I think as Americans we foget that the world doesn't revolve around us.
The real question is, will Panini be up to incurring the costs necessary to produce high-end products for the "niche" of the American market?

Time will tell. But it will be a business decision nothing more and nothing less.

It's easy to have preconceived notions due to our only hobby experiences with them to date but I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt before declaring the basketball hobby dead.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more!

As a card collector (NFL cards , though I did start off collecting NBA cards) from Australia, I couldn't agree with you more.

Here is the thing. To buy a box of exquisite, I would have to pay the $500 for the box, an extra $35 (at least) postage, add in the Australian Dollar to US dollar exchange rate, and a box of exquisite would cost me at least $830 Australian! Added to that there are the problems with redeeming cards for those from outside the US. And compared to most countries around the world, Australia is a lot more affluent. There is no way most people can or want to spend that much on a box of cards.

If you have boxes of cards distributed or sold locally in other countries for even $100 a box, without any additional shipping cost, the market for cards is likely to increase significantly.

From 1993 to 1996 NBA cards were huge in Australia. The big problem however was the cost. A pack of cards with a SRP of $2 in the US would cost $5 and upwards in Australia. As pack prices in the US increased, they increased even more in Australia, pushing them out of reach of children (who were the largest market) and making them a less than smart "investment" for adult collectors, particularly given what the cards were worth in resale value.

This is a smart move by the NBA in terms of increasing it's market throughout the world, something that many people in the US deliberately choose to ignore, because as you say, many people in the US thinks the world revolves around them.

Dave said...

For what it's worth, my argument about the Panini deal being bad for collectors had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Panini is a non-U.S. company. That said, I don't understand why Panini as an Italian company would be able to market cards in Australia better than an American company like Upper Deck.

Also, I take offense to Alex's stereotype that "many people in the US thinks the world revolves around them". I don't think that it does, but I know that it sure as hell does not revolve around Australia.

Anonymous said...

Dave - read the original post. It said "I think as Americans we foget that the world doesn't revolve around us".

I agreed, because sadly many Americans do think that (your fellow American even admits this), just as there are sadly many Australians who think the world revolves Australia. Guess what? Neither of those types of people are correct, and neither are reflective of all of their countrymen. What is even sadder is that this arrogance on the part of some Americans and Australians often makes Australians and Americans targets in other parts of the world.

As for why an Italian Company like Panini would be better at distributing NBA cards in Australia, it is because they already distribute cards in Australia - including Non-sport and soccer cards. And while these are not the quality of Exquisite, they are much better value than buying a box of exquisite - then again buying a lottery ticket is almost better value than buying a box of exquisite. Panini already distribute world-wide, while Upper Deck and Topps essentially distribute in North America.

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