Each week, 13 million people in the United States, and many more millions worldwide, tune into WWE programming to see the sports entertainment juggernaut’s Superstars and Divas do battle inside – and often outside – of the ring.

There’s no shortage of opportunities to watch the company’s engaging and colorful storylines play out on television, either on Monday Night RAW, the company’s live, three-hour flagship weekly show airing on the USA Network; or other programming, including Smackdown, which will join RAW on USA next year. More than 1.3 million people also subscribe to WWE’s over-the-top digital streaming service, the WWE Network, to see its monthly pay-per-view (PPV) events and access its massive library of original and archived content.

Cable television isn’t the only place to experience the brand. Smartphones, computers, tablets, gaming consoles and other mobile devices are also portals into the “WWE Universe,” as the company’s fanbase is known. 

Read more: WWE

For years, Valiant Entertainment has been in a “David and Goliaths”-style battle against Marvel and DC Comics. But Valiant, which owns and controls the third-largest superhero universe in comics, is preparing to make an epic, superhero-style leap forward, COO and CFO Gavin Cuneo says.

New York City-based Valiant has sold more than 80 million comic books and has a library of 2,000 characters. A group of ex-Marvel executives founded Valiant in 1989, including former Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter and “Iron Man” artist Bob Layton.

The company sought to redefine what it meant to be a superhero in the modern age, Director of Marketing, Communications & Digital Media Hunter Gorinson says. “[Our characters] tend not to have secret identities or capes,” he explains. “Many of their powers are reflected by real world physics.”

Read more: Valiant Entertainment

A wildly popular card game coupled with devoted fans is the perfect equation for a gaming company’s success, but the relationship it has with licensing partners is equally important.

Such is the case for Steve Jackson Games (SJ Games), the developer of a wide variety of card, board and dice games as well as books and magazines devoted to game enthusiasts. The company has 40 employees and had sales of $8.5 million in 2014.

SJ Games was founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, and has realized considerable success with myriad releases. But none has enjoyed more popularity than Munchkin, which the company describes as ”dungeon crawling without all that annoying roleplaying junk in the form of a card game. It’s fun, it’s funny and it’s our top seller ever.” 

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Last year was a big year for one of Sony Pictures’ most popular and enduring properties, as the movie “Ghostbusters” marked its 30th anniversary with an successful celebration that included a partnership with Gallery 1988 for an art exhibit, a limited theatrical re-release of the original 1984 film re-mastered in 4K across select markets (including the U.S.), a promotional partnership with Krispy Kreme donuts, and an assortment of top preforming classic merchandise, all of this to lead to the January announcement of a new movie with an all-new cast for slated for July 22nd, 2016. Both the original and new “Ghostbusters” figure to be major components of Sony Pictures Consumer Products’ licensing efforts for 2015 and 2016, and Senior Vice President of Global Consumer Products Gregory Economos says that speaks to the company’s extensive stable of classic and new properties.

Read more: Sony Pictures Consumer Products

New York City is the de facto capital of the world, and millions come from around the globe to take in its sights. As one of the world’s premier tourist destinations and the setting for countless movies, TV shows and books, nearly every aspect of the city has been enshrined as an icon, and that includes the city’s public transportation system, operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

The buses, trains, bridges and tunnels operated by MTA are just as iconic and well-known as New York City landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, so it’s not surprising that residents and visitors alike would want to have a little piece of those in their own homes. As director of marketing and communications for the MTA, Mark Heavey’s job is to ensure that the image of the authority is protected no matter where or how its iconography is used. 

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As a global leader in the development of brand, character and entertainment footwear and apparel, Leomil Group sees a wealth of opportunities for the future by partnering with the right licensors. “The future of licensing is about having the right partners,” CEO Albert Milhado says. “Look at the success of Frozen; every girl fights for that pair of shoes or that dress. Every day there are new opportunities and the world of licensing is a great opportunity for the future.”

Milhado founded the Leomil Group and merged with the Oudenaarde, Belgium-based Cortina Group in 2007. Milhado will put his succession plans in motion this year. The change in leadership will be announced at the Licensing Expo 2015. “I will still be available when they need me, but my children are taking over all the main positions,” Milhado says. 

Read more: Cortina/Leomil Group

King’s Hawaiian never disappoints with its bread products that are consistently baked to perfection. The bread is always soft and fluffy with just the right amount of sweetness. “Nothing else comes close to our product and our recipe is the main thing that sets us apart,” says Courtney Taira, granddaughter of founder Robert Taira and consumer care department lead. “For us it’s all about the quality. It has to be 100 percent correct or it doesn’t go out.” 

Although the company is based in Torrance, Calif., Robert R. Taira founded King’s Hawaiian in Hilo, Hawaii in the 1950s when he opened his first bake shop – Robert’s Bakery – after graduating at the top of his baking class. The first round, soft loaves of original recipe King’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread were made there and a local traditional favorite was born. 

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While many people fantasize about being in a rock and roll band, the team at Epic Rights spend their time dreaming up multifaceted merchandise programs for some of the world’s greatest rock icons, including KISS, AC/DC, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Def Leppard and many more. They also have been entrusted with perpetuating the legacy of John Lennon, continuing the spirit of Woodstock and celebrating the storied contributions of CBGB to music’s history.

Based in Los Angeles, the full service global branding, licensing and social media marketing company  was launched by music veteran Dell Furano in January 2014. Drawing on more than 30 years of experience in music merchandising, long-term relationships with the biggest names in rock and roll and a reputation as a trusted advisor, Furano and Epic Rights are now committed to growing the already sizeable worldwide fan base of its formidable client roster while also extending clients’ earning potential beyond album releases and concert tours. 

Read more: Epic Rights

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