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Last Frontier Of Sports Sponsorship Is Time

Tuesday, 7 Dec 2010 | 5:04 PM ET

We've been searching for what's next in sports sponsorship. First came the sponsorship on the side of the playing service, then came logos on the surface itself. Then it was all about virtual signage, then sponsorship on jerseys, sponsored plays with company jingles, sponsored locker rooms and now, brace yourself folks, it's sponsored TIME .

Madison Square Garden announced today that Foxwoods Resort Casino is now the exclusive advertising partner to the final five minutes of Knicks, Rangers, Islanders and Devils games on MSG and MSG Plus. The sponsorship, called The "Foxwoods Final Five" includes an in-arena buy at Madison Square Garden for Knicks and Rangers games.

Foxwoods will literally own these final five minutes thanks to virtual signage on the TV screen and in-arena and broadcast mentions.

"The final five minutes is the time when fans are fully engaged in the action when they are standing or on the edge of their seats and that's very valuable time," said Scott O'Neil, president of MSG Sports. "What our partners have been asking us for is to achieve a dominant position in their marketplace and break through the clutter."

Rob Victoria, chief marketing officer for Foxwoods, said the sponsorship was a non-traditional buy that made sense.

"We like the idea of buying blocks of time on a sports broadcast when people don't use TiVo or DVR," Victoria said.

Time was first bought years ago when a minor league team sold its starting game time — 7:11 p.m. — to 7-Eleven. The Chicago White Sox eventually sold the same sponsorship.

It should be interesting to see if other teams include this in their inventory. Will certain sponsors be able to buy a sponsorship for every time a particular player scores? Will exclusive sponsorships ever extend to complete quarters?

In-arena sponsors have certainly got a greater bang for their buck thanks to LED signage that circles arenas and stadiums that allows their message to get throughout the venue at a specific time. Now that people are used to this, it's admittedly less dynamic. The Foxwoods deal shakes up the marketplace once again.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com
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