Licensing, marketing and retail expert/opinion leader Tony Lisanti, provides insight and perspective for the top headlines of the week. “Licensing and Merchandising Report” is a must read for top execs who want objective, straightforward and authoritative analysis. 

Content Deals Offer Licensing Opps

Three very different content deals announced this week should be on the radar of licensing execs based on their popularity as well as potential for licensed products—Rugrats, Downton Abbey and MakerForce 5.

Viacom, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures announced a relaunch of the iconic kids’ TV series Rugrats and a live-action film.

The TV series and the movie, which is from Paramount Players with a November 2020 release date, will feature the well-known characters­—Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, Susie and Angelica—as well as new characters.

Meanwhile, The Crawleys are headed to the big screen. The highly acclaimed PBS series Downton Abbey, which ended its run in 2015 after six seasons, will start this summer with much of the same cast. There’s no release date yet, but second half of 2019 is possible, but likely 2020.

Spotlight Licensing & Brand Management, headed by Carol Postal who spearheaded licensing for the TV series (and did a remarkable job with the property), is handling the movie.

And then there’s a new property MakerForce 5, the first movie project from Gadget Studios founded by Michael Younesi and MGA Entertainment CEO Isaac Larian. It’s no surprise that MGA has a deal for toys. Larian posted, “Now let’s change the kids entertainment business and #disrupt.” Created by Younesi, the executive producer of Netflix’s Project Mc2, MakerForce 5 brings together five kids—a gamer, a comic book geek, an inventor, a skater and a martial artist—to fight off a mysterious invasion that occurs after every parent in the group’s hometown suddenly vanishes.

Super Bowl QB Tops NFL Player Sales

The National Football League Players Association released its player sales for March through May 2018 and it’s a story of veterans and rookies topping the list.
It’s no surprise that the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles led the list of merchandise sales followed by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the “other” Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that New York Giants rookie Saquon Barkley, who hasn’t yet played a game, made the list at No.3.

The other top rookie to crack the Top 20 was New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, who ranked No. 20.

Only five total rookies made the Top 50; the other three were Baker Mayfield (30), Josh Allen (38) and Shaquem Griffin (43).

Here’s the top 10 players among all licensed product sold:

  1. Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
  3. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
  5. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
  6. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
  7. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
  8. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
  9. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
  10. Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders

Comcast Drops Out

The Comcast-Disney media battle is over!

Comcast will no longer pursue its bid to buy Twenty-First Century Fox, but the company will focus instead on its offer for Sky, the U.K.-based media and telecommunications company.

The Walt Disney Company had recently outbid Comcast’s $65 billion all-cash offer with a $71 billion cash and stock offer. Now, the deal is all about the final regulatory issues including Disney’s need to sell-off the Fox regional sports networks.

As I previously reported, the focus remains on July 27—the day Fox shareholders will vote on the deal. Disney’s CEO Bob Iger and all of its shareholders should “continue” to keep the champagne on ice.

Amazon Sets Single Day Sales Record

Despite early tech problems, Amazon’s Prime Day 2018 on July 16 became its single largest shopping event with more than 100 million products sold and marketplace sales that “far exceeded” $1 billion.

According to Internet Retailer estimates, Prime Day sales topped $4 billion, up 66% over 2017.

A few major takeaways to consider from Prime Day:

Amazon continues to expand its Prime membership, which now exceeds 100 million members; focus on core categories such as toys, electronics, beauty and apparel; expand its merchandise mix with private label brands; pursue new businesses, technology and formats, such as pharmacy, AI and Amazon Go.

In the U.S., Amazon reported its bestselling products as the Instant Pot 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi Use, 23 and Me DNA Test and LifeStraw Personal Water Filter.

Other key facts from Prime Day, according to Amazon, include the following:

  • A record number of Prime members shopped across 17 countries.
  • Amazon welcomed more new Prime members than any previous day in its history.
  • Customers purchased millions of Fire TV devices globally.
  • Prime Day was the biggest event ever for Echo devices with screens.
  • Customers purchased more than five million items in each of the following categories: toys, beauty, PCs and computer accessories, apparel and kitchen products.
  • Best day ever for Fire TV devices and Kindle e-readers globally.

Walmart Partners With Microsoft

A five-year strategic partnership between Walmart and Microsoft exemplifies the world’s largest retailers’ commitment to cloud technology and the use of artificial intelligence. Walmart is looking to make the shopping experience better, faster and easier by utilizing Microsoft’s cloud solutions, including Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365.

While it may not now appear to be big deal or have immediate results, this is an obvious strategic competitive move to improve its tech systems and better compete with Amazon.

In the Aisles

Shark Week at Walmart: As Discovery’s Shark Week 2018, which begins July 22 and marks the 30th anniversary of the popular franchise, Walmart has been well prepared for the event. An impressive PDQ display is positioned in the aisle opposite the toy department. It features a variety of licensed products including shark plush, towels, toys and accessories.

New Trend or Desperate Move?

A New Jersey mall is testing a program charging shoppers to pay for premium parking spaces. The Freehold Raceway Mall is charging $5 on weekends for parking spaces close to the entrance for Macy’s and Nordstrom.

Well, considering the many challenges facing the nation’s malls, retailers and shoppers as well, I don’t believe that customers will want to shell out an extra fee for the parking privilege. Why not stay home, save the gas, time and money and just shop online! Or park a little further away, get some exercise and save the money.

It seems like a counterintuitive move in today’s highly competitive retail world.

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