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Will Fans Shop During Broadcasts? Amazon is Betting On It

  • On the busiest shopping day of the year, the streamer could make a foray into interactive shopping and marketing.
  • The 2022 Thanksgiving Day game on Fox was the most-watched regular-season game, and Amazon Prime boasts over 200 million customers.
Charissa Thompson
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In the NFL’s first-ever “Black Friday” game — the busiest shopping day of the year — Amazon Prime Video could make a foray into interactive shopping and marketing.

Amazon is entering its second season of an 11-year, $11 billion deal to exclusively stream “Thursday Night Football” outside of local TV markets — and the world’s largest online retailer could be gearing up to embrace its e-commerce identity more than ever.

While the company won’t comment on specifics, Prime Video will “continue to innovate and experiment,” said Jay Marine, vice president and global head of sports. 

“We’ll have some interesting things for Black Friday where we think it will be additive for fans given the celebration of that day,” Marine said during a press call Monday. “And the key part is you need to keep fans front and center, and the game front and center. There’s a lot of things we could do in terms up on the screen, but we’re very considered the way.”

Last season’s Thanksgiving Day game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants drew record TV numbers on Fox Sports: averaging 42 million viewers, it was the league’s most watched-regular season game ever. 

Prime Video hopes that trend continues Black Friday, buoyed by the hype surrounding Aaron Rodgers’ New York Jets taking on the Miami Dolphins — and a free stream.

“Skip the lines, grab some leftovers and tune in for a new football tradition,” the ‘TNF web site reads. “With free access for all fans, including those without a Prime membership — this is a deal you won’t want to miss.”

The e-commerce giant averaged 9.58 million viewers across its 15-game package in 2022, according to Nielsen. Or 11.3 million when combined with Amazon’s internal metrics. That was well below the league average of 16.7 million viewers per game across broadcast and cable TV networks NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN.

But Prime Video proved it can attract the younger cord-cutters who are abandoning traditional TV models. During the first season of “TNF,” Prime Video viewers were fully eight years younger on average than those on traditional networks. The advertiser-coveted 18-34-year-old audience was up 11% year over year, Marine said. 

Initially launched in 2005, the Prime subscription has helped fuel Amazon’s global growth. The giant streamer now boasts over 200 million Prime customers worldwide, according to founder Jeff Bezos, and Prime members spend nearly $2,000 per year across Amazon, according to a study. That’s about four times as much as non-prime members. (A Prime membership costs $139 annually vs. $79 in 2005).

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Sports retail expert Mike May thinks the opportunity is ripe for Prime Video and the NFL to cash in on a captive streaming audience looking to do some early holiday shopping. 

“I’m surprised they’re waiting until Black Friday. Why not do it now?” asked the senior writer for Team Insight magazine. “I think it will go over well. These teams are doing a good job at marketing jerseys in different colors and designs. There’s different logos, there’s retro. Why wait until Black Friday? Who wouldn’t rather buy a Christmas gift in September rather than wait until November?”

With the NFL signed to its platform for the next decade, Amazon is now eyeing a streaming package from the NBA, according to sources. Marine confirmed that Amazon is looking at other “uniquely valuable” sports rights. The problem is the best rights are also uniquely expensive.

“We’ll be aggressive, but we’ll also be rational. And so we’ll just have to see how that evolves over time,” he said.

Prime will exclusively stream 16 regular-season games this season. TNF’s regular-season coverage will kick off with the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles taking on the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, September 14.

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