(Unlocked) Reacting to TCGPlayer Acquiring ChannelFireball & BinderPOS

TCGPlayer has announced its acquisition of ChannelFireball and BinderPOS. You can find the entire announcement and press release here.

If you looked at the TCGPlayer acquisition of CFB and wonder how this news may affect you, I wrote my thoughts and speculation down (first on Twitter) and organized it per audience in this order:

  • Players & Content Consumers 
  • LGSs/Stores 
  • Content Creators 
  • Events/Event Goers

Free free to scroll or Ctrl + F (Find) to get to the section most relevant to you. As always, I appreciate word of mouth if you like what you read here. Please feel free to share with a friend or two. Thanks!

Players & Content Consumers

Players buying from TCGPlayer won’t notice a difference from the acquisition. If, however, TCGPlayer raises fees again for sellers, either per transaction or BinderPOS inventory management side, card prices may naturally rise some to offset. 

Content changes will be significant. This is easily the deepest lineup of CCs in the community now. I expect TCG Infinite to be revamped by adding subscription tiers with different layers of content and maybe even an expanded loyalty program.

LGSs & Vendors

Flying under the radar in this acquisition is BinderPOS. The average player/consumer has never heard of them before, but BinderPOS has been quietly changing the game for stores via inventory management & point-of-sale.

There’s a lot to unpack here.  I expect BinderPOS to remain autonomous initially, with the only big change being an integration of TCGPlayer into the BinderPOS ecosystem and vice versa. The big picture is the cost of BinderPOS for its stores (customers). Like TCGPlayer, BinderPOS has potential to develop a near-monopolistic footprint. They lead the collectibles industry in innovation for inventory management and point-of-sale, and having access to cross sell to TCGPlayer’s store owners is a HUGE opportunity.

I expect BinderPOS to cross sell its products to all store owners on TCGPlayer while also integrating w/ their interface now that contractual barriers are gone. I also expect BinderPOS to raise fees which may raise card prices as stores look to offset.

TL;DR, the acquisition has to pay for itself somehow and if I’m looking at it from TCGPlayer’s vantage-point, the majority of financial value (ie growth opportunity) lies in BinderPOS’s potential.  Unfortunately, this may come at LGS/store owners expense.

Content Creators 

Combined, TCGPlayer and ChannelFireball content becomes the largest provider in the industry. This could be great for freelancers or even small content creators (like myself).

TCGPlayer is incentivized to monetize content to help pay for the acquisition. I’m thinking they will expand TCG Infinite offerings with tailored content packages to subscribe to. If you’re an aspiring freelancer, get your content portfolio updated!

Events/Event Goers

There’s a lot to unpack in this section, but it’s all unknowns and speculation. My immediate reaction to this acquisition is that it will put the fork in CFB Events, but the fact they mention it explicitly in the press release made me double-take. 

We could see TCGPlayer want to invest in events or build their own collectibles expo to bring players, LGSs, and CCs together. “Events” is unpredictable, but it offers the most exciting aspect of the acquisition for the community if TCG executes well.

Wrapping Up

Of course, this is all just speculation, and I am excited to see how things shake out. I see a lot of comments talking about this being a monopoly and bad for the consumer and industry. I look at it a bit differently, though. TCGPlayer has had a position of power for years now, and certainly are already established as the Amazon for collectible card games. This purchase reinforces that, but should also instill further confidence in CCGs long-term.

The secondary market remains healthy at the top, but know there is underlying weakness that could lead to more consolidation in the future. As it has been for the past five years, stores who continue to innovate and find new ways to bring in revenue will thrive. I’ll plan to cover this topic more in a standalone article in the near-future.


– CM

Chris Martin is the co-founder of Conviction Gaming and co-host of the Brewin’ With Conviction podcast. He has been playing MTG since 1998 and is an avid EDH player with a knack for MTG finance.

You can find more of Chris’s daily content by following on Twitter @ChiStyleGaming.

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