NFL ready to capitalize on instant merchandise market

Odell Beckham Jr.'s 2014 catch created a windfall for T-shirt makers who were smart enough to act fast. Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports

Every NFL fan remembers the moment. Sunday Night Football in November 2014. Odell Beckham Jr. makes the ridiculous, one-handed touchdown grab against the Dallas Cowboys. It is the catch heard around the world.

Social media is going crazy. Giants fans want something to remember the moment. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right now.

But in the hours after the catch, the ones cashing in were the creative T-shirt makers, unlicensed quick-buck artists who found some way around the NFL's licensing rights or maybe they didn't care.

In an overlooked development from the recent owners meeting, the NFL extended its deal with e-commerce partner Fanatics and set up the parameters to make sure that the league can better cash in on what they are calling "Micro Moments."

"The excitement in every record or amazing play is there, but the half-life of each moment is so short, you have to do what you can to capture it," said Chris Halpin, senior vice president of consumer products for the league.

The league and Fanatics will work ahead of time to develop more products tied to records they know are coming up and set up a system for quick approval of designs minutes after a bankable moment, like Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary against the Detroit Lions, happens on the field.

"We live in an on-demand world," said Fanatics CEO Doug Mack. "It's not good enough to get the scores in the morning paper and in the social media age we live in, fans want what they want now."

Mack said Fanatics will bulk up its team so that ideas can be generated, designs can be pulled off, those designs can be marketed and the products can be sold and sent. Coupled with adding employees, the company has also committed to $80 million in technological investment to make things flow smoothly.

Thanks to a new digital printing center in Jacksonville, Florida, Mack said Fanatics can produce one shirt at a time as they're sold, meaning there's no virtually financial risk for selling a huge variety of products.

Mack said that if there's a phrase that the company comes up with in the spur of the moment that has a life, Fanatics might seek to trademark it, though it could get tricky if it's based on words an athlete says.

Washington Redskins Kirk Cousins, for example, filed for the trademark to "You Like That" days after he famously screamed the phase. Cousins sold thousands of shirts himself to raise money for the International Justice Mission.