Licensed Merchandise Scores $241.5B in 2014

Olaf Singing in Frozen - H 2014

'Frozen,' 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' fared well — and don't ignore the Kiss Kasket or 'Game of Thrones' beer.

"Character & Entertainment" was by far the largest category of licensed merchandise sold worldwide in 2014, according to a study released Monday.

Of $241.5 billion in retail sales of products bearing images of cartoon characters, references to TV shows, logos of sports teams, colleges and a big variety of corporate logos and brands, 44 percent fell into the Character & Entertainment category.

The data comes courtesy of the International Licensing Industry Merchandiser's Association, which issued its first-ever global survey after a major revamp of its methodology, so there's no comparative data. But Marty Brochstein, a vice president with the group, says that, anecdotally, the industry is on the rise.

"People in the business considered it a very strong year," he said, adding that his sources are bullish about the current year as well, given the potential of movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Fantastic Four and Jurassic World. Avengers: Age of Ultron, released May 1, has already done well from a merchandise perspective, though the group, known as LIMA, does not release data pertaining to individual brands.

Again, anecdotally, Brochstein says that in 2014 Walt Disney's Frozen and the Nickelodeon/Paramount Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise performed well, while adults (presumably) purchased merchandise related to cable TV shows like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad (including a Halloween hazmat costume) and Game of Thrones (including Three-Eyed Raven beer).

Following Character & Entertainment, Corporate Trademark accounted for 22 percent of the sales, Fashion was next with 12 percent and it was followed by Sports at 11 percent. Rounding out the Top 8 were Publishing, Collegiate, Celebrity and Music.

In music, t-shirts and apparel are dominant, but quirkier items also show up, such as a $3,000 Kiss Kasket emblazoned with images of the band members. While it's an actual, useable coffin, it can double as a drinks chiller.

In the sports category, the NFL was very popular, despite some well-publicized misbehavior by some players. So far this year, gear promoting Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is hot in spite of the "deflategate" controversy, as is merchandise associated with rookie quarterbacks Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans and Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Former merchandise star Tim Tebow, though, "pretty much fell off the charts" in 2014, Brochstein said.

The NBA's LeBron James did well in 2014 and female sports apparel had a nice growth spurt last year, Brochstein said. Also, soccer scored well, in particular merchandise for Manchester United F.C. and FC Barcelona.

The $241.5 billion in worldwide sales in licensed merchandise in 2014 translated to $13.4 billion in royalties. The United States and Canada accounted for nearly 60 percent of the sales, Europe was just under 25 percent and Asia was just shy of 10 percent.