Amazon Plans to Tap ‘Thursday Night Football’ Talent for ‘Black Friday’ Game Commercials

When Amazon’s Prime Video streams a new “Black Friday” NFL game later this year, viewers won’t be greeted solely by a live match.

The company plans to offer commercials featuring its talent around the event, according to Danielle Carney, who heads up NFL sales for Amazon. During remarks made at an industry conference, Carney envisioned different “talent” being tapped to talk to viewers about possible buying opportunities. “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, is typically seen as the first day of the U.S. holiday shopping season.

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“We can be thoughtful about deals we are showing to those who are tuning in,” Carney said, a possible allusion to the fact that streamers can place ads in front of specific audiences by using data about subscribers as well as consumer information from particular sponsors.

Whether “talent” might involve “Thursday Night Football” analysts like Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit or Charissa Thompson was not addressed during Carney’s comments. Amazon Prime Video also offers an array of “alternate” feeds of “TNF,” relying on the comedy troupe Dude Perfect for one and on veteran announcers Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer for another.

The company expects that it will have “Thursday Night Football” talent pre-record custom spots for advertisers on site at the game’s location, according to a person familiar with the matter. Those ads will be edited and aired later in the day during the football broadcast, and viewers may think the sportscasters are speaking to them as part of their game duties.

Live ads — or ads that seemed like they were done live — were a staple of early television, but have been embraced anew in recent years. Late-night hosts including Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert have done ads during ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” for example.

Live football seems to spur creative people to consider ways to create live showcases around it. Earlier this year, FanDuel tested a live commercial during Fox’s broadcast of Super Bowl LVII. Retired star Rob Gronkowski tried to kick a field goal to help gamblers win part of a $10 million pot. He missed, and the ad hasn’t been spoken about much in the aftermath. In 2017, Snickers ran a live ad featuring actor Adam Driver messing up a cue and looking surprised as the entire shoot went off the rails. Of course, the mistakes were part of the script, but viewers seemed befuddled by the presentation.

The NFL and Amazon created the new “Black Friday” game as part of an 11-year deal that gave Amazon exclusive rights to stream “Thursday Night Football.” The event has proven difficult for traditional media outlets to monetize. Over the years, CBS, NBC and Fox have all tried their hand at backing the game. NBC Sports remains involved, and is a production partner of Amazon’s.

But the company is eager to create a new tradition with the Black Friday game. Amazon’s chief business, of course, is e-commerce and the new game could create new opportunities to spur people to shop at a critical time of year for many U.S. advertisers. Amazon wants the “Black Friday” game to “get that holiday feel to it,” said Carney.

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