The NFL and Amazon recently announced that Prime Video will be streaming a newly scheduled game on Black Friday in 2023. The e-commerce giant is reportedly paying $50 million for the exclusive broadcast rights of the most popular domestic sports property on the biggest retail day of the year.
The announcement indicates the NFL’s satisfaction with its newest media partner, particularly from a production standpoint. However, Gary Vaynerchuck (chairman, VaynerX) views the news as a meaningful development in a broader macro trend. “Content and commerce are on a crash course, and it is going to change the economic landscape of the next decade,” he said in a recent Instagram video.
Additionally, Disney+ has since disclosed plans to expand into e-commerce. Subscribers will be able to scan on-screen QR codes or gain access to a special URL that enables them to shop exclusive merchandise.
JWS’ Take: Many football fans in the U.S. associate Thanksgiving weekend with football: Three games on Thanksgiving Day, college football rivalry games on Saturday and the regular slate of NFL games on Sunday. The opportunity to schedule an NFL game with Amazon in that gap on Black Friday made sense to the league.
For Amazon, the NFL game creates another compelling reason for fans without a Prime subscription to sign-up for one. And that likely translates to more business; remember, a 2018 Consumer Intelligence Research Partners study found the average Prime subscriber spends $800 more per year on Amazon than regular customers.
And with little competition on that day aside from a handful of college football games, an attractive NFL matchup might help Amazon to draw 15 million plus potential shoppers. You can bet many of them will prefer the company’s friction-free holiday shopping experience to the madness of the big box-store rush.
The e-commerce giant declined to elaborate on what it might look like to integrate products both within the game broadcast and the site experience. However, the next logical step is brands putting forth interactive commercials “that integrate shopping or the ability to find out more about a product” for fans watching a game broadcast on a digital platform, Zubin Mowlavi (president, Vayner Commerce) said.
Marie Donoghue (VP of global sports for Prime Video) said at the news conference for the NFL’s Black Friday game that there are no plans to push viewers from the game to the retail site.
While the NFL may be hesitant to embrace in-game e-commerce at this point, some media observers have suggested tier-two properties struggling to command large rights fees could use the integrations to help close the rights earnings gap.
The closest comparison to the NFL’s Black Friday game on Prime Video is the English Premier League’s Boxing Day lineup. However, Mowlavi said the fact that the largest online retailer is involved in the former “immediately gives it the most potential of any content and commerce initiative.”
Blending content and commerce dates back several decades; you may recall QVC and HSN peaking in the 1990s. More recently, we’ve seen social commerce gain traction in China; according to Insider Intelligence, the digital sales approach is responsible for about 16% of e-commerce sales across that country.
Social commerce only makes up around 5% of total e-commerce sales in the U.S., but Mowlavi believes that has more to do with the dearth of brands investing in content and the technological limitations, particularly related to attribution, than fundamental differences in consumer behavior, according to Mowlavi.
Now that Instagram live shopping and TikTok Shop have integrated applications such as Shopify and Salesforce into their back-ends, the content and commerce trend is expected to take off stateside. Brands that have been investing in a content strategy across social platforms, such as Nordstrom and E.L.F Cosmetics, are starting to gain traction.
“Instead of focusing on creating it all internally, they are tapping into the millions of people on TikTok, Instagram, etc., to create [programming] about their products that leads people to purchase them,” Mowlavi said. “[E.L.F. Cosmetics’ Eyes Lips Face challenge] spread organically—celebrities even joined in. And it attracted over three million user-generated videos.”
Many other brands are expected to follow their lead and begin investing in content for the purpose of cultivating and serving a community of passionate fans. The public markets are looking for businesses to embark on a path to profitability, as opposed to chasing growth at all costs, and it’s more cost-effective to sell product to existing customers than trying to gain new ones, according to Mowlavi.
By delivering genuine and authentic content, as opposed to content designed to shill product or drive SEO traffic, brands can appeal to the target consumer and fill the top of the proverbial marketing funnel. “It is about getting folks to think about a brand when they’re not directly at the point of purchase intent,” Mowlavi said. “[Once a company has] a recognizable brand and people are talking about [it], there is a higher likelihood that someone is going to purchase their products.”
Community-based streetwear brand The Hundreds, which started as an online media publication, has historically executed on this strategy well. “They have their apparel line, and they have phenomenal content that people want to consume,” Mowlavi said.