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deal w O via the NFL Players Inc. licensing- unit. "Since partnering in 2013, and have helped nearly 1,000 players connect with hundreds of brands to share campaigns, reaching more than 1 billion fans worldwide."

• The has named Shenzhen, as the host city for 2019-2028, a deal that includes the building of a 12K-seat venue, and doubling the prize money to $14M for the Top 8 singles players and Top 8 doubles teams.

• Overwatch League said that its first week of competition drew more than 10 million viewers via Twitch, MLG, and Chinese streaming partners ZhanQi TV, NetEase CC and Panda TV. Opening day had an average audience per minute of 408,000.

• Coca-Cola, International Speedway Corp. and Nascar have signed an extension to their partnerships under which Coca-Cola, would "continue its deep-rooted history in the sport by engaging racing fans across Nascar’s three national series and 12 ISC-operated race tracks" and events including the Coca-Cola 600 and the Coca-Cola 400. Coca-Cola-sponsored drivers include Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Daniel Suarez and Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. Coca-Cola said it "has been involved with stock car racing for 50 years," and became an official partner with Nascar in 1998.

• NBC Olympics will debut Olympic Ice Presented by Toyota, a live, daily figure skating show airing nightly (7 PM ET) on NBCSN beginning Feb. 10 and continuing through Feb. 24. Live Olympic figure skating competition will follow the show in primetime. NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app will present a digital-exclusive version of Olympic Ice Presented by Toyota immediately following prime-time coverage beginning Feb. 8.

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Top NBA All-Star Game Votes (To Date)
Eastern Conference
1.  Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 863,416
2.  LeBron James (CLE) 856,080
3.  Kyrie Irving (BOS) 802,834
4.  Joel Embiid (PHI) 433,161
5. Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) 359,459
6.  DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 259,368
7.  Victor Oladipo (IND) 251,886
8.  Kevin Love (CLE) 221,969
9.  Ben Simmons (PHI) 210,085
10. John Wall (WAS) 175,990
Western Conference
1. Kevin Durant (GSW) 767,402
2. Stephen Curry (GSW) 735,115
3. James Harden (HOU) 602,040
4. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 438,469
5. Klay Thompson (GSW) 359,442
6. DeMarcus Cousins (NOP) 356,340
7. Draymond Green (GSW) 325,612
8. Manu Ginobili (SAS) 231,460
9. Kawhi Leonard (SAS) 212,650
10. Carmelo Anthony (OKC) 194,239

The 67th NBA All-Star Game will take place on Sunday, Feb. 18 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. TNT will televise (8 PM ET)

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Top-Selling NFL Jerseys By Team 2017 At Dick’s Sporting Goods
1. Dallas Cowboys
2. New England Patriots
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. Denver Broncos
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Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Monday
Oct232017

Q&A: Panini America Puts Stock In Trade With NBA, NFL, Soccer Alliances

By Barry Janoff

October 23, 2017: Thanks to what arguably was the most hectic off-season in the history of the NBA, you literally can’t tell team rosters without a scorecard.

Or, in this case, trading cards and other products from Panini America.

To keep their products as fresh as possible, Panini was tracking the numerous trades of major stars with more intensity than ever.

The company, the official trading card partner for the NBA since 2010, has, thanks to its Panini Instant real-time trading card platform, put players in their new uniforms.

Among them is Kyrie Irving, who has an exclusive deal with Panini America, shown in his Boston Celtics uniform as part of the Panini Instant real-time trading card platform, a 14-card Tip-Off set released to coincide with the start of the 2017-18 season.

Panini Instant also has in their post-trade current uniforms Dwyane Wade (Cleveland Cavaliers), Chris Paul (Houston Rockets), Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Jimmy Butler (Minnesota Timberwolves); as well as rookies including Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum and Dennis Smith Jr..

In addition to Irving, Panini America exclusives include NBA icon Kobe Bryant; NBA stars Kevin Durant, John Wall and Blake Griffin; NFLers Andrew Luck, Dez Bryant and rookie Leonard Fournette; and U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team star Christian Pulisic.

Due this month as part of Panini America’s NBA platform is 2017-18 NBA Hoops Basketball, which includes Hot Signatures, Red Hot Signatures, Hot Signatures Rookies, Red Hot Signatures Rookies, Road to the NBA Finals, a special Kevin Durant Finals MVP card and a ten-card subset that pays tribute to the career of Kobe Bryant.

In November, 2017-18 Prizm Basketball will include Rookie Signatures featuring Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum and others from the 2017 NBA Draft class; and The Signatures autograph insert, which includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard and Andrew Wiggins.

Panini America said it would support its NBA alliance throughout the season with more exclusives, multi-media marketing and onsite activation at jewel events including the NBA All-Star Game this February in Los Angeles.

The company also has alliances with the NFL, NFLPA, NHL, Nascar, MLB Players and the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia.

NYSportsJournalism spoke with Jason Howarth, VP-Marketing for Panini America, about keeping pace with the onslaught of changes in NBA, building momentum for the Road to Russia and the ongoing evolution of the trading card and memorabilia category.

NYSportsJournalism.com: It was a crazy, non-stop NBA off-season with many top players traded. What was it like keeping track of it all for your NBA card sets?

Jason Howarth: We work with a lead time. That being said, there was a lot happening every day if not every week. We spent a lot of time watching the news, keeping in touch with people, making sure we didn’t miss anything. We want our product to be as current as possible.

NYSJ: Any specific trade that impacted your product?

JH: Kyrie is one of our exclusive athletes and his trade (from the Cavaliers to the Celtics) came in late August. For our Sticker Collection, we originally had Kyrie on the cover, but he was in his Cavaliers uniform, and we had Isaiah Thomas in his Celtics uniform. We figured, What could go wrong? (Laughs.) Now, neither of them are on the cover because we didn’t have photos of them in their new uniforms before the deadline. So we have Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kristaps Porzingas (along with Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard and John Wall).

NYSJ: How did these major changes impact Panini’s NBA trading card sets?

JH: Our Panini Instant real-time trading card platform, a 14-card Tip-Off set, has players in their new uniforms, including Kyrie, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade. Our first (traditional card) set of the season, 2017-18 NBA Hoops Basketball, comes out this month and the players will be in their original (pre-trade) uniforms. We will get updated photos and cards in the next set.

NYSJ: On the flip side, did all the changes during the off-season make this season even more interesting than it might already have been?

JH: There is no off-season for us. (Laughs.) As soon as these kids step off the court after the Final Four we are actively going out there and signing guys.

Rookie cards drive the category. And this has been one of the most exciting NBA rookie classes in a very long time. There is a lot of anticipation for these guys. A lot of excitement. We’re started seeing  that our collegiate basketball produce, which came out a few weeks ago. With these rookies landing on the teams they did, it makes it that much more compelling when you have that mixed in with all the changes among star players.

NYSJ: Is it similar for your NFL products?

JH: It is. There is no off-season there for us, as well. As soon as they step off the field from their Bowl games or championship game, guys like Deshaun Watson and Mike Williams, we are starting to work on projects with the players. Trying to get contracts signed. We work with them during the NFL and NBA Combines, the NFL and NBA Drafts. We see the NBA guys in Summer Leagues, so by the time we get them to the rookie NFL or NBA photo shoot, they already have engaged with us for three or four different touch-points. Our goal is to always be authentic to the athlete. And they get it.

NYSJ: What marketing support are you proving for card and app releases?

JH: It’s funny. We used to say we have a TV campaign. Now we call it a content campaign across multiple platforms. That includes digital and social media and that includes broadcast. When we bring the product to life on social media, be it an Instagram, Twitter or Facebook campaign, we want to be authentic to the players. When we released our NFL set we ran a spot, ‘We All Collect Something’ with Deshaun Watson, Leonard Fournette and other NFL rookies

For the NBA product, we will have a 60-second spot on YouTube with six NBA rookies and then a 30-second spot on broadcast including Disney XD, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and NBA TV. We want to do creative and exciting things. Let their fans see what happens behind the scenes. And we work with the players on the types of things they might like to see and try to incorporate that into the cards.

NYSJ: Do players still get excited to see themselves on trading cards?

JH: They absolutely do. It’s one of those defining moments for players. We had 40 guys at the NBA rookie photo shoot in August at the New York Knicks practice facility (in Tarrytown, NY). Prior to the shoot, putting on their NBA uniform for the first time. It’s a Wow! moment for them. When they see their cards (via the Panini Instant platform) it helps to solidify it for them, it brings it to life that they are in the NBA. It’s exciting for them. They spend a lot of time signing their cards. And to have that emotion play into your brand is unbeatable.

(Editor’s note: After seeing his rookie card, Lonzo Ball wrote on his Twitter account, “I’m so hyped to finally be in my Lakers jersey. Check out my first trading card.” De’Aaron Fox wrote on his Twitter account, “Let’s go! Finally in my Sacramento Kings uni. Go check out my first trading card.” See all the rookie cards here.)

NYSJ: Do you hear from the players later about whether or not they like their cards?

JH: We do hear from players, and sometimes from their parents, who are really excited, especially if their son is a rookie. They’ll ask how they can a get a larger version of the card to hang in their home.

NYSJ: There are platforms to collect digital cards, but do fans still enjoy holding the cards, trading them? Is that still special for them?

JH: We have diversified our strategy, but that is still a major part of what we do. Getting the physical product in the hands of fans and players. It is part of sports and collecting — getting a pack of cards in your hand and opening it to see which players you have. People still get excited about that. It doesn’t matter how old you are.

NYSJ: What is the state of the trading card category in 2017 and how have things changed?

JH: In the 1980s and 1990s it was all about fast production. Getting it as quickly as possible into the hands of consumers. We still have brands that do that. On the NBA side, we produce 28 different products per NBA calendar year. We produce 36 different products on the NFL side during an NFL calendar year. There is a range, from $1.99 sold at Target and Walmart to products that are $5,000 for ten cards in hobby stores and online. The range is dynamic in terms of what goes into the cards these days.

NYSJ: What are some of the new elements Panini America is putting out for fans and collectors?

JH: We are focused on the physical side, but we launched our NFL Blitz Digital Trading Card app at the start of the season. It’s cool and dynamic. There are a lot of opportunities in the app for fan engagement. We have contests where you take cards from your collection, put them into your lineup and get points based on the player’s actual performance on the field. We also are launching our NBA Dunk Digital Trading Card app for the start of the season.

NYSJ: Will you have a presence at the NBA All-Star Game this February in Los Angeles?

JH: We will have a big presence. We are working on those plans now. The NBA is dynamic sport for us. Of the sports in the U.S., it is truly global. We have a huge following for our NBA products in Asia. So we work with our people there and NBA China. We are planning to incorporate some of those experiences into our All-Star Game presence in Los Angeles because there is a strong connection between Asia and Los Angeles.

'We originally had Kyrie on the cover, but he was in his Cavaliers uniform, and we had Isaiah Thomas in his Celtics uniform. We figured, What could go wrong?'

NYSJ: What about soccer-related product with your FIFA World Cup alliance?

JH: We have a Select Soccer Set (hobby) due late November, Our FIFA World Cup sticker collection will launch in April. We are planing a large presence in the U.S. marketplace. Soccer is really growing in this country and this is a huge opportunity.

We have an exclusive deal with Christian Pulisic who is one of the most exciting players in the world. There are a lot of people, if they haven’t already recognized who he is from his overseas exploits, they certainly will from his play with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

NYSJ: What is hot on the entertainment side?

JH: We work with Disney and DC Comics. We just launched a Justice League trading card game and we’ll follow that up with a sticker collection. (The Justice League movie is due in theaters Nov. 17.) Then we’ll have another Justice League release in the trading card-theme category. So we are excited about that.

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