Are We Looking at Sports on Streaming the Wrong Way?

Revenue from sports broadcasting isn't just about commercials

Thursday Night Football logo
Detailed view of the Amazon Prime TNF logo prior to an NFL football game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New Orleans Saints.
Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Just over a week ago, the NFL held its first game on Black Friday — with the match broadcast on Amazon Prime Video. Both the existence of the game and the advertising on it involved significant sums of money: as Yahoo! Finance reported, broadcast rights for the game cost $100 million, and a 30-second ad during the broadcast would set advertisers back $880,000.

Ad Age‘s reporting on the game compared it to the Super Bowl, both in terms of the high cost of ads and from the ways that certain advertisers created new ads specifically for the occasion. When you factor in what Amazon has also spent for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts, it feels like one more new venture for the retail/logistics/media/cloud computing juggernaut.

And yet: what if Amazon’s relationship with the NFL was less about diversifying their business and more about furthering one of their oldest ways of making money? That’s the gist of Julia Alexander’s analysis of the Black Friday game for Puck. Alexander begins by pointing out that plenty of shoppers are going online for Black Friday. And if some of them want to do their shopping while watching football, so much the better. “[T]here are clear synergies for Amazon, which can use that captive, highly engaged, ready-to-spend NFL audience to drive sales,” Alexander writes.

The Best “Thursday Night Football” Game of the Year Could Decide the AFC North Early
The Bengals (5-4) will visit the Ravens (7-3) in primetime tonight

While these different parts of Amazon’s business make it the most logical candidate to use live sports to advertise online deals, it’s not the only entity capable of it. Alexander also cites a feature on Peacock, Must ShopTV, that directs viewers to buy products seen on different programs. It’s not too far removed from the feature on Amazon Prime that lets you know what the song is playing on a certain Prime program — and, ostensibly, buy or stream it.

It does make you wonder where this all might end. Could viewers at home, for example, interact with the jersey sponsors for a Premier League game? (Someone has to have thought of this already, right?) It’s a brave new world — with all of the ups and downs that that implies.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.