From Football to Foodies, Amazon and Walmart Try out New Customer Connections

sports streaming

In football circles it’s called a “Hail Mary” — a last-second pass heaved into the endzone in hopes of winning the game with no time left on the clock.

While Amazon has sprinted onto the field, so to speak, with its newly launched Thursday Night Football franchise and has been tinkering with a variety of new and innovative ways to get old fashioned fans to watch and interact with sports in new ways — before, during and after the game — there’s one key difference between the eCommerce giant’s NFL foray and a “Hail Mary.”

Specifically, Amazon isn’t losing the game, by a long shot.

In fact, by almost any common digital metric, Amazon is miles ahead, not only against Walmart but pretty much everybody in the U.S. retail industry that is competing for a slice of the 43% of the domestic online sales pie that Amazon doesn’t already control.

In addition to a pair of basic “How to Watch” and “Everything You Need to Know” update blogs posted this week, a lot of the heavy promotional lifting is being done by outside observers, news organizations and even fans themselves, all of whom are commenting in real time, critiquing and complimenting and otherwise engaging with a refreshed, new digital version of a product that was middle-aged in its prior life.

“The Prime Video app supports live sports on more than 650 connected devices,” a company blog post stated, “including Fire TV and the Fire tablet, set top boxes, media players (Roku, Google Chromecast, Apple TV), game consoles (Xbox, PlayStation), smart TVs, and tablets and mobile phones running iOs or Android.”

By digesting feedback in real time, Amazon’s rookie season as football quarterback is clearly a work in progress and will likely include as many new tweaks and plays in week 16 of the season as it did in weeks 1 and 2, so stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

Walmart Gets Connected

If there’s one thing everybody loves in Arkansas, it’s football — especially the college variety — and Bentonville-based team at Walmart HQ is no exception. In fact, in announcing the addition of free Paramount+ streaming TV service last month to all Walmart+ subscribers, the retail giant made secret of its sports-minded thinking.

“The [Paramount+] service is also the streaming home to unmatched sports programming, including every CBS Sports event, from golf to football to basketball and more,” the press release stated, as well as other events and leagues from around the world, in addition to a more traditional slate of TV shows and films.

While big games and blockbuster movies are proven merchandise driving events that turbo-charge demand for everything from big screen TVs to snacks and drinks to apparel and more, Walmart’s latest media push is to build up the ways and places that it connects with its audience/customers in between these big “tent pole” events.

Specifically, the retail giant launched a five-pronged raft of social commerce innovation partners this week that will see TikTok, Snapchat, Firework, TalkShopLive and Roku leading a broad and diverse effort to not only reach customers “where they’re at,” but to move and inspire them with experiences that touch consumers much more deeply than just one-dimensional displays of product and price.

“This is not just television shopping 2.0. What this actually is doing is redefining shopping and providing an online shopping experience that’s worth talking about,” Bryan Moore, co-founder and CEO of TalkShopLive said in an interview with PYMNTS.

For its part, Walmart said the increased digital outreach comes at a time when consumers want to shop in news ways for both economic and lifestyle reasons, a reality that has seen the retailer looking to build a seamless superhighway between high-traffic social media and its high-inventory physical stores.

“For us, social commerce is about driving customer engagement and shortening the distance between inspiration and purchase by removing friction from the checkout experience,” Molly Blakeman, senior director, communications at Walmart said in an email to PYMNTS.

“We’ve been ultra-focused on creating social commerce experiences that resonate with our customers,” she added, “[and] we’re continuing to test, pilot and optimize new ways to reach our customers and help them save time, save money, and make their lives a little better.”

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