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Darren Rovell: Sports

Thursday, 1 Dec 2011 | 2:34 PM ET

1. Nike's NFL takeover will result in huge sales.

The NFL merchandise business is already a robust one, but Reebokreally dropped the ball on evolving NFL apparel in the 10 years it owned the rights. Nike paid a lot for official rights for the next five years (starting April 1) and the results will be phenomenal. Nike will make big changes to at least six of the team's jerseys in year one and make other minor changes to get fans to buy more jerseys than ever before.

Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks drives against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals.
Getty Images
Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks drives against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals.

2. Selling time is the next great frontier in sports sponsorship.

It started with a minor league team selling its first pitch time to (All home night games started at 7:11 pm). It continued withThe Madison Square Garden Company selling the last five minutes of Rangers' and Knicks' home games to Foxwoods. Selling sponsorships associated with game times is a great way for brands to break through the clutter and own a time when everyone is paying attention. It's also easy to carve out and execute.

3. NBA attendance will suffer.

While it's possible TV ratings can still hold, the shortened 66-game season, with games crammed into mid-week, means attendance will suffer — both in the number of tickets sold and actual number of people in the stands. The dip will be at least 350 people a game, lowering average, official attendance to 16,850 a game.

4. College sports will continue to be the most robust marketplace.

Although the kids don't get paid, the money in college sports is astounding. IMG has made a huge business out of buying licensing and media rights of schools and then making more money selling sponsorships and trademarks. The business is only going to get bigger and every big player, from the networks (which have paid massive rights fees) to the large merchandise sellers like Fanaticsto smart photo reprint companyReplay Photoswill continue to make serious coin.

5. Forced to compete with the at-home experience, teams will finally spend money to adequately wire stadiums and arenas.

It has long been a pet peeve for sports fans. How can the reception in these facilities be so bad? Expect teams to partner with telecommunications providers to make the "connection" experience much better. The only telecommunications sponsor that has done anything about this is Nextel/Sprint when it got the NASCARdeal at U.S. tracks.

2011 Scorecard





As for my predictions from 2011, give me a B-.

1. If the NBA or NFL have lockouts they will be very short.

Grade: B

Although both went a long time, my prediction really was based on missed season time. I said the NFL would start by late September and the NBA late November. It happened sooner in the NFL and a month later in the NBA (Dec. 25 start).

2. 3D TV still won't make a dent.

Grade: A+

It generated absolutely no traction.

3. Lack of Tiger victories will slow PGA tour TV negotiations.

Grade: B-

Tiger didn't win in 2011, but the PGA Tour still signed its future television contracts. Although they won't say it publicly, TV networks definitely bid less.

4. The next great job in sports is social-media coordinator.

Grade: C

I still believe this, but surprisingly little happened.

5. Improving the TV experience in stands is essential.

Grade: B-

While leagues and teams seemed to recognize this failing, I didn't notice marked improvement.

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MSG
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NKE
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S
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CVC
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