The new NFL season kicks off tonight.
There are certainly more than a few clouds looming on the business end. Tense collective bargaining between the team owners and the player union will dictate if there's a league lockout next year. Season ticket sales have declined for three years in a row, with blackouts -- when local team games aren't shown on television because they weren't sold out in time -- projected to grow.
Is football dying?
Hardly. The game's shortcomings have more to do with the recession and the wider availability of high-def consumption at home. After all, televised games continue to draw strong ratings, topped off by the magnetic Super Bowl rite every year.
In other words, it's perfectly natural to buy into the game -- but how?
Here are a few stocks that play right into the sport's popularity.
(NYSE: DTV): Having locked up exclusivity on the NFL Ticket through 2014, the leading satellite-television provider is the only programming option for fans who want to see every play of every game on their television.
(NYSE: UA): Its sweat-shaking apparel has been a training camp staple for years, so Under Armour figured that expanding into football cleats was a logical business extension -- complete with an athlete-studded "Click-Clack" marketing campaign. UA has gone on to broaden its line of footwear. Its athletic apparel has also gone more mainstream. These are the moves that make UA a compelling investment, but it's still a footballer at heart.
Sirius XM Radio
(Nasdaq: SIRI): If DirecTV owns the couch potatoes, Sirius XM has first dibs on the tailgaters. Sirius has had exclusive satellite-radio rights to NFL games since the 2004 season, countered by XM's deal with Major League Baseball. Sirius XM now has more skin in football, after launching a fantasy sports channel this summer that has carried content mostly for those readying for their fantasy football drafts this season.
(NYSE: DIS): Disney gobbled up ESPN and ABC in the 1990s, making it a football force with 24/7 sports coverage through the undisputed global programming leader in ESPN. ABC's Monday Night Football -- now on ESPN -- was just gravy. ESPN's website also runs fantasy football leagues.
(Nasdaq: ERTS): Madden NFL 11 was the country's best-selling game last month. EA's football franchise, now with more than two decades of annual installments, reported a 5% uptick in sales of the game relative to last year's edition. EA is also dramatically widening the digital revenue derived from its licensed franchise. It was the top-grossing application across all mobile platforms on Apple's App Store the day it came out.
Good luck out there, no matter what team -- or stock -- you cheer on.
Be a guru. Who do you think will make it to the Super Bowl this season? Post your thoughts in the comment box below, then we can all come back in February and hand out bragging rights.
Walt Disney is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Under Armour is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple, Walt Disney, and Electronic Arts are Motley Fool Stock Advisor choices. Under Armour is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Under Armour. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a Miami Dolphins season ticket holder since the 1980s. Yes, he knows better than to predict good things for the team this year. He owns shares in Disney. He is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool has a disclosure policy.