Nov 23, 2023 - Economy

Amazon's Black Friday NFL game could change holiday shopping

Illustration of a hand-shaped cursor about to throw a football

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amazon is flexing its muscles against its big-box store competition with the first-ever Black Friday NFL game.

Why it matters: There's an epic battle to control consumers' wallets during the super-lucrative end-of-year holidays and the new game is expected to drive football fans to cut in-store shopping short.

What's happening: The Black Friday game starts at 3pm ET between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.

  • It's free for all to watch on Amazon Prime Video, even non-Prime members for this first year, but an Amazon account is needed.

The big picture: Amazon is betting on consumers shopping while watching the game, including its existing base of sports fans.

  • "Amazon knows many people often multitask, including online shopping," Kristin McGrath, a shopping expert at RetailMeNot, told Axios. "It wants to meet these folks where they are at."
  • Another potential benefit: The more people are home, the more likely they would be to shop Amazon's Black Friday deals. "So if you were out, maybe you're going to rush home," Jay Marine, Amazon's global head of sports, said.

Zoom in: Black Friday, a day commonly referred to as the "Super Bowl" of shopping and deals, is projected to be the busiest day of the five-day Thanksgiving shopping weekend that ends with Cyber Monday.

  • The new game could lead to more online shopping thanks to QR codes that will be shown during the broadcast.
  • Neil Saunders, an analyst at GlobalData, thinks it could even "discourage some from going to stores on Black Friday, or at least to shorten their store trips so they can be back in time to see the game."

Black Friday game could become an annual tradition

NFL and Amazon officials said a Black Friday game was a natural extension of "Thursday Night Football" and that it could become an annual tradition like the three Thanksgiving Day games.

  • "It was a perfect partnership because obviously, Black Friday is a huge event for us every year," Marine said.

What's next: NFL executive vice president for media distribution Hans Schroeder said multiple teams have reached out asking to be the annual host of the game.

  • "I think that's less likely in the near term," Schroeder said. "Our focus is much more on the opportunity to rotate this."

Black Friday shopping pause

Amazon's Black Friday sale kicked off on Nov. 17 and will morph into Cyber Monday deals on Nov. 25.

  • Black Friday proper is expected to be Amazon's highest traffic day, like in past years.

Reality check: Bruce Clark, a Northeastern University marketing professor, said the game can be a mid-day break, and "dedicated Black Friday shoppers will be up and out in the morning to get deals."

  • "The people who skip shopping for the game are also likely to be ones who weren't that dedicated to the Black Friday experience in the first place," Clark said.

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