The Tampa Bay Lightning recently won the Stanley Cup after defeating the Montréal Canadiens in the fifth game of a best-of-seven series. Their win marked one of the hardest feats in all of team sports: back-to-back championships. With the season now over, merchandising kicks into high gear.
If nothing else, pro sports is a merchandising bonanza. Teams and leagues collectively make billions of dollars every year selling T-shirts, hoodies, jackets, jerseys, bobble heads, and just about anything else you can put a logo on. Fans just can’t seem to get enough.
The beauty of it all is that teams and leagues license their trademarks and logos. Your typical licensing agreement not only comes with an upfront fee, but it also demands a share of sales revenues. It is no wonder pro sports teams can afford to pay players tens of millions per year. Merchandising is covering a significant share of teams’ payrolls.
Merchandising the Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning sell a lot of merchandise. Winning championships certainly helps. But even prior to this year, they were selling plenty of T-shirts and hats. And with every Stanley Cup championship comes an opportunity to sell more. But this year is different.
The fact that the Lightning won back-to-back championships gives them more opportunities to market. But that’s not all. Think about the team’s name. Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘lightning never strikes the same place twice’? It is actually an idiom we use to describe very rare events.
Merchandising gurus have picked up on that. They are now selling Tampa Bay Lightning items proclaiming that lightning does strike twice. Tampa Bay’s hockey team has proved it. With that in mind, just think how many different products you could market with the Lightning logo and any phrase denoting lightning striking twice.
Championships and Fan Loyalty
As you might imagine, winning league championships does create a certain level of fan loyalty. The New York Yankees baseball team is a great example. As one of the most storied franchises in MLB history, the Yankees have a solid fan base incomparable to any other baseball team.
Even though the Yankees have won a record number of World Series championships, it has been a while since their last win in 2009. Going 12 years without a championship is considered a long time for the Bronx Bombers. And yet, their fan base is no less loyal. That is good news for merchandisers.
If you are a New York Yankees fan, you might want to check out the Plurawl website. Plurawl is a New York company selling a line of apparel featuring LatinXapparel and cultural references. They have a selection of famous New York Yankee player images you can have applied to T-shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs, and posters. And being a Yankees fan, you would recognize the faces instantly. No one would have to tell you.
Keeping Pro Sports Alive
It would be interesting to know how much revenue merchandising generates for pro sports teams. It would also be interesting to know what percentage of a team’s total revenue comes from merchandising. It would be no surprise to learn that merchandising is keeping a lot of pro sports alive.
Have you ever wondered why all those spring football leagues fail? Because pro football is an expensive sport. You need both merchandising and a significant TV deal to make it. The problem is, it’s hard to get either one without a loyal fan base.
Anyway, merchandising is truly a bonanza for pro sports and manufacturers willing to purchase merchandising licenses. There are billions of dollars to be made.