License Global magazine has released its exclusive Top 150 Global Licensors report, which ranks owners of intellectual property by annual retail sales of licensed products.

April 6, 2018

4 Min Read

Annual report showcases Disney, Meredith, PVH, Iconix, Warner Bros. and other owners of some of the world’s biggest brands.

License Global magazine has released its exclusive Top 150 Global Licensors report, which ranks owners of intellectual property by annual retail sales of licensed products.

Click here to view the full report.

The licensors included on the list reported more than $272 billion in global sales of licensed merchandise at retail in 2016, a $10 billion increase over last year.

The Top 150 Global Licensors report is sponsored by the global accounting and auditing firm EisnerAmper.

Featured in the magazine’s April issue, the 2017 report reflects the breadth and scope of the brand licensing sector, spanning from The Walt Disney Company (No. 1), which maintains its long-held position as the world’s leading licensor, increasing sales by $4.1 billion in 2016 for a total of $56.6 billion, down to Viz Media North America (No. 150), a leading distributor of popular manga and anime brands such as “Naruto Shippuden” and “One-Punch Man.”

Fifty-five of the brands profiled in the study reported retail sales of $1 billion or more in 2016, accounting for more than $244 billion in retail sales or 90 percent of the total list. Additionally, seven new companies join the report this year, including Viz Media (No. 150); Diageo, owner of brands such as Guinness and Smirnoff (No. 78); household appliance maker Hamilton Beach Brands (No. 111); London design house Santoro (No. 134); American casual dining brand Tony Roma’s (No. 138); gardening brand Scotts Miracle-Gro (No. 139); premium ice cream franchise Cold Stone Creamery (No. 142); and Biltmore, inspired by the iconic Biltmore House and Gardens in Asheville, N.C. (No. 149).

Highlights of this year’s Top 150 Global Licensors report include:

  • The Walt Disney Company, which includes Lucasfilm, Marvel, ABC, ESPN, Disney-Pixar and Walt Disney Studios, continues to dominate the brand licensing sector in the No. 1 position, with $56.6 billion in licensed merchandise retail sales in 2016, an increase of 8 percent from the previous year. Performance was driven by another year of blockbuster releases including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War, The Jungle Book, Zootopia and Moana.

  • Global publishing house Meredith maintains its No. 2 position with $22.8 billion in retail sales of licensed products for brands such as Better Homes and Gardens, Shape, Allrecipes, EatingWell and more.

  • Rounding out the top 10 global licensors are: No. 3 PVH Corp., which owns fashion powerhouse brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger ($18B); No. 4 Iconix Brand Group, a brand management firm with a diverse roster that includes Mossimo, Umbro and Peanuts ($12B); No. 5 Warner Bros. Consumer Products, which saw big success with its DC Universe and Harry Potter franchises in 2016 as well as TV properties such as ”The Big Bang Theory” (6.5B); No. 6 Hasbro ($6.2B); No. 7 Universal Brand Development ($6.1B); No. 8 Nickelodeon ($5.5B); No. 9 Major League Baseball ($5.5B); and No. 10 IMG College Licensing/Collegiate Licensing Company ($4.5B).

  • Universal Brand Development jumps four spots from No. 11 in 2016 to No. 7 this year, following its acquisition of DreamWorks Animation in 2016. The group also saw growth within its other divisions including Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment and NBCUniversal.

  • Other companies that climbed the ranks include The POkemon Company International, which moved up 10 spots to No. 19 on momentum from the brand’s 20th anniversary in 2016 and the global phenomenon that was the “Pokemon Go” mobile app; machinery brand Caterpillar, which jumped four spots to No. 24 after finding success in the smartphone market with the launch of the first-ever phone with thermal imaging; Moose Toys, which moved up an incredible 84 spots to No. 53 following the runaway retail success of its collectible toy brand Shopkins; Rovio Entertainment, which got a boost from The Angry Birds Movie that propelled it up 16 spots to No. 63; and Sony Pictures, which saw increased sales for both classic and new Ghostbusters merchandise following its reboot of the franchise, propelling it up 5 spots to No. 87.

“The Top 150 Global Licensors report offers invaluable insights and trends for the world’s major brands in the entertainment, sports, fashion/apparel, corporate, art and non-profit sectors and exemplifies the popularity of consumers’ favorite brands around the world,” says Tony Lisanti, global editorial director, License Global. “This report also reinforces the importance of licensed brands as a critical business for many of the world’s largest retailers.”

The Top 150 Global Licensors report, as well as the April issue in its entirety, is available on

Furthermore, many of the Top 150 licensors will be exhibiting at Licensing Expo, the largest and most influential brand, character and licensing event, set to take place May 23-25 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev.

Click here to view the full report.

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