NFLPA Announces Licensee of the Year Winners

Jul 5, 2016

"ea-sports"The NFL Players Association recently announced EA SPORTS, Panini America and 500 Level have been named winners of the second-annual Licensee of the Year Awards.

EA SPORTS won licensee of the year in the digital category, while Panini America and 500 Level won in the hardlines and apparel categories, respectively. The NFLPA, via its licensing and marketing arm, NFL Players Inc., launched the awards in 2015 to honor the NFLPA licensees that have demonstrated the most successful and creative use of group player rights within the past year.

A panel comprised of NFLPA executives judged entrants on five criteria: number of unique players featured within the licensees’ product lines; the marketing and promotional activations that featured players throughout the year; creativity and innovation in product development; the companies’ positive development of the players’ intellectual property; and the range of distribution and growth in annual financial performance.

“We think it is important to give recognition to these licensees, who have done an outstanding job connecting with our players in the creation and marketing of their NFLPA-licensed products,” says Steve Scebelo, NFLPA Vice President of Licensing and Business Development. “EA SPORTS, Panini America and 500 Level have all given extra effort to get to know and work directly with a significant number of players, and the dividends show in each of their respective product lines.”

EA SPORTS, a consecutive winner in the digital category, enjoyed a record-setting year by leveraging NFLPA group player rights and the inclusion of more than 2,300 players in the Madden NFL 16 game. Among the year’s highlights were EA and Discovery Education teaming up to launch a Madden-inspired math and science educational program that reached more than 1.2 million students, as well as a unique promotion with Uber that saw NFL players deliver advanced copies of Madden to fans in 32 NFL markets.

This year’s winner in the hardlines category, Panini America, is the exclusive trading card partner of the NFLPA. Highlights of the partnership included expansion of Panini’s business through college-specific card sets featuring more than 500 players, the launch of the Panini Gridiron app to engage fans and collectors, and the release of the inaugural Trading Card Index to rank top rookies and veterans in the collector market.

The apparel category winner, 500 Level, is known for artistically designed sports apparel, including T-shirts, with likenesses of more than 500 players. Among this year’s highlights were co-branding partnerships with fantasy football expert Matthew Berry and the 150th anniversary of the FDNY; supporting players’ football camps through custom T-shirts; and using player-branded storefronts and players’ e-commerce websites to promote new products,

For more information, visit — J.L.