The NFL draft has been moved to the middle of May as announed by the NFL yesterday, and as you can imagine, its going to have big ripples. One of those ripples that I am guessing doesnt even begin to register for them, is how this will affect the timing of product releases.
This year, the rookie premiere occured on May 18th, right during the time when the draft is expected to be had. Obviously, with a draft this late, its unlikely the premiere will be able to occur until June, thus pushing the release of the first post-premiere products to much after that. When you consider the gap which is created in the calendar, its going to force one of two things. Either, there will need to be more pre-premiere products with airbrushed pictures, or the whole calendar will have to be shifted back.
For the record, I am not the biggest fan of pre-premiere products. The track record has been pretty uninspiring from the bigger companies.
Other companies have made a huge dent in this market, as they have more to gain by putting huge effort into the success of these sets. In fact, I do think there is a significant level of potential to be had in pre-draft and premiere based initiatives, but when you apply higher standards as we do with Topps and Panini, im not so sure.
If collectors are being forced to wait even longer than they already are for post-premiere products, is this going to drastically affect the buying habits of the consumers? My guess cant be formed in a cognitive way right now. The first post premiere product from Topps doesnt even hit shelves until August, and what happens when that is now pushed back until September, when the season is already underway? Panini already tries to rush forward in releasing the first products after the draft and after the rookie premiere, and even then I dont think they reach full potential. Sometimes the products are winners, often times, they are not.
I think for a class like the one we will have this year, its probably a better situation than I would guess to be the case. On field production is the ultimate value multiplier, and with a weaker offensive class – waiting through the preseason might be a good thing.
Regardless of what ends up happening, its obvious that the comapnies will adjust. Curious to see what happens.