The sports card market has changed drastically. Topps has the contract for Major League Baseball and has just lost the license for football. Upper Deck is out of baseball and basketball but has hockey. Panini now has basketball. Each company has an exclusive contract with a sport for the present day players. This does not stop them from making products with Hall of Famers/Old Timers or getting college/minor league contracts.
Is this going to hurt the card market? It may but isn't the card market already hurting? There are less card stores and card shows around the country than there were 10 years ago. Half the people selling cards on ebay are dealers or someone looking to make a profit which becomes harder and harder because Beckett has lowered book price on most items as well as too much product having been released in the last 10 years.
Kids aren't really interested in sports cards anymore. The card companies try miserably to attract them but fail to realize that the technology they are using to attract a younger genration is out dated. The commercial for Topps on the MLB network is laughable. Spinning cards will not attract kids. How about players endorsing the product and a new attempt at digital cards on cd?
The industry is in trouble and giving exclusive contracts to companies will not make a difference. There will still be too much product and lackluster attempt to attract a new generation of card collectors.
The economy is hurting the industry as well. If the choice is between buying a baseball card or paying rent it is the rent that will be paid.
If the industry is to bounce back the following things need to happen:
1. Attract kids
2. Beckett needs to be more consistent and have complete(give a book price for 1 of 1 cards) and higher book prices
3. Cheaper products with value. Whenever there is a cheap product it has no value. It is time to make some with value.
4. Consistency. The loss of Topps for football fans will be a problem in the short run as people will want the Topps football products. It may turn them off and turning off anyone right now is destructive for the industry.
5. Incentives for people to open sports card stores. If kids have a place to go and buy and even hangout such as a card store it will benefit the industry.
6. Find a way to combat ebay with more card shows sponsored by the big card companies.
7. Fight the bad economy with cheaper products not more expensive products and make it so all products give the buyer bang for their buck. How often do you buy a box for $100 and realize you'll only get $50 for the box? Most of the time.