NBA and Twitter Team Up to Bring “Virtual Sports Bar” to Life



Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

TV networks and marketers alike have long talked up the revenue potential of interactive TV shopping. Now NBCUniversal, with an assist to tennis superstar Novak Djokovic, is placing a bet on what it believes could become a big e-commerce business.

During NBC Sports’ coverage of the French Open this past weekend, viewers were invited to point their smartphone at the TV screen and buy the crocodile-adorned Lacoste outfits worn by Djokovic.

The promotion will continue throughout the tournament during Djokovic’s matches, potentially into the final if the world’s number-one-ranked player makes it that far.

As of press time, NBCUniversal declined to release any results of the efforts around Djokovic’s matches thus far.

But the French Open is just the beginning, said Josh Feldman, NBCUniversal’s head of advertising marketing. Eventually, the media giant will offer “ShoppableTV” across its sports and entertainment properties, ranging from the NBC broadcast network and Golf Channel to Bravo and USA Network.

“It really combines the reach and scale of television with the ease of mobile e-commerce,” said Feldman.

Here are the basics of how it works, according to Feldman: During breaks in Djokovic matches from Roland Garros in Paris, NBC’s announcers will alert viewers they can buy the tennis star’s outfits by scanning a QR code on their TV screen.

Once TV viewers scan the code, a URL will pop on their phone. If they click the URL, they’ll go directly to the landing page of the Lacoste X Novak Djokovic Collection. The apparel company signed Djokovic as a “Lacoste Style Ambassador” two years ago.

NBA and Twitter Team Up to Bring "Virtual Sports Bar" to Life 1
This is what the QR code looks like on screen.

Previously, a ShoppableTV prototype aired during a “Steals and Deals” segment on NBC’s Today show in April, according to Adweek.

In that segment, Today contributor Jill Martin directed viewers to hold up their phone’s camera to scan a QR code on their TV screen. The test generated 50,000 scans in just five minutes, according to Adweek. A similar concept was also tested with the Golf Channel.

The French Open is just the starting point for NBC, who is already talking to the Tour de France about ShoppableTV during the event’s broadcast in July, Feldman said.

With Olympics fans always rabidly interested in gear and souvenirs, a deal with NBC’s global partners at the International Olympic Committee could be a logical next step.

“We will obviously have that conversation (with the IOC),” Feldman confirmed.

NBC is not the only corporate giant interested in the concept. Walmart is weighing shoppable content for its VUDU streaming service, according to Mobile Marketer. Ditto for Google and YouTube, according to MediaPost.

Feldman sees ShoppableTV being utilized for TV shows ranging from The Voice to Project Runway. If the French Open efforts go as well as hoped, the sky’s the limit, according to Feldman – all of NBCUniversal’s properties will be open for business on Madison Avenue.

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“This has been something that’s been talked about since the advent of the internet. It was always the immediate gratification of ‘Oh, I want to buy this sweater that my favorite star in this show is wearing in real time,’” he said.

“Nobody’s really, truly figured it out. I think this is the most friction-less, quickest way, and the first of its kind, that gets us close to that. Literally, you’ll be able to watch this Djokovic match and, if you like the outfit he’s wearing, buy it immediately. Quite frankly, you can buy anything from once you get there. But what will drive you there is that actual outfit that you see him playing on the big stage with.”


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