Licensing a sports brand provides access into a lucrative fan market, where the sport and team popularity can translate into significant product sales. Some of the biggest brands include the NFL, Major League Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, NASCAR and Colleges and Universities.

Sports brands typically look for experienced companies with a track record with their product, national distribution, sales reps and the documentation to verify their financial viability. They don’t want you to use their property to get into business; they want you already to be in business. If you’re a small business, you’ll have to convince the licensor that your company can handle any boom in sales that might occur with the license.

Most leagues have long-standing relationships in apparel and shoe categories with big licensees. But many other segments are wide open to small manufacturers. By keeping abreast of the licensors changing priorities, you can find new niches. For example, in the collegiate market, there are opportunities to license non-apparel products for some of the smaller colleges and universities. Sports licensors also like new innovative products that fit unfilled niches because they help keep their brand refreshed at retail.

Royalties for most sports brands run 12% and higher. The specific percentage depends on variables such as the brand, market size (local or national) and product categories. Many leagues have a set royalty rate that’s typically non-negotiable. All of them will require a minimum guarantee (expect five to six figures), and usually require an advance payment of 25% – 50% of that guarantee.

You can visit league websites to get information about their licensing requirements and application process. Although you can do the application process on your own, consider enlisting the help of a licensing consultant or other expert. They know the process and have relationships that can get the door open much faster. If you are seeking rights to several sports brands, a licensing expert will save you time and money.

Licensing a sports brand is an expansion strategy that gives you access to a market of sports fans on a local, national or global scale. It let’s you take advantage of their broad consumer awareness, and you get the added benefit of live games and on going advertising without the cost.

3 thoughts on “Licensing Sports Brands to Expand Your Business

  1. Dear Rand, I am assisting a professor of sports medicine/leading sports surgeon. He has treated most of the world’s top sports stars. He has his unique IP. He now wants to set up clinics worldwide offering sports medical services to athletes . He is FIFA approved and the centres can carry the FIFA logo I am told. I am looking for someone to partner us to develop this into possibly several hundred centres across the globe. The aim is to package the offering as a License and to sell the licenses to those in sports medicine, sports science, sports investors etc. If you see potential, I would be happy to do a zoom video with yourself. I am based in London. My email is (all letters) and mobile is +44 788 99 13607 (also Whatsapp) .Kind regards. Raj Lakha

  2. Hello there

    We have had a patent granted in the US for our innovative sports ball invention and we are looking for an agent to partner with to help us find suitable licensees in the US.

    Is this something you can help with?

    Many thanks for your time



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