Amazon Says ‘Black Friday’ Football Ads Are Sold Out

The Super Bowl isn’t the only big football property that will be crammed full of advertising.

Amazon’s Prime Video has sold out all the commercial inventory attached to its new “Black Friday” game, the first event the NFL has earmarked for the day after Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday-shopping season, according to Danielle Carney, head of NFL ad-sales for the company. Amazon has also sold out of ad inventory in the “Thursday Night Football” games slated for November 16 and November 30, she says, in part because the company has tried to sell broader ad packages that connect an ad message across a broader swath of content.

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One reason for the interest? Amazon will open the “Black Friday” game to anyone who wants to watch it, not just the company’s Prime members. The move is likely to broaden the audience for the event.

“We are excited by this, by how we can event-ize Black Friday for advertisers, and we have been thinking about it that way,” Carney told Variety. “We have been thinking of ways to reward fans that tune in through curated holiday deals and exclusive deals,” she adds, noting that some ads may carry interactive banners at the bottom of the screen or a QR code that may take viewers to shopping opportunities. Amazon is also encouraging sponsors to launch new campaigns and new creative concepts to get viewers excited about making purchases.

The new Black Friday event represents an experiment not just for Amazon, but for the NFL itself. For years, the league has backed a Thanksgiving afternoon game, shown for many years on NBC. The game was baked into the recent 11-year deal Amazon and the NFL struck that gave the digital titan sole rights to “Thursday Night Football.”

The executive declined to comment on the price Amazon has been seeking for commercials in the Black Friday game. The company has in the past been aggressive about seeking a premium, comparing its streams of “Thursday Night Football” to the big-audience Sunday games broadcast each week of the NFL season by Fox, CBS and NBC. Carney declined to say if Amazon has sought more than $1 million for a 30 second ad or even if the company has sought prices higher than those charged for a more typical Thursday-night stream.

Among the advertisers that have lined up to support the game are Google and Carnival Cruises, both of which will serve as presenting sponsors. Meanwhile, Hasbro, Bose and Columbia Sportswear will also advertise, according to Carney. The executive says viewers are likely to see commercials from marketers who might not normally sign up for an NFL game, and will see more consumer-products companies than might typically show up in a football event. Still, she adds, “we will have a nice mix of insurance, financial, auto and the traditional guys.”

Amazon’s sales drive comes amid a sluggish TV-advertising market overall. Analysts have noted that “scatter,” or ad time purchased much closer to the time commercials air, has been tepid — a hangover for the media sector, which has seen the flow of ad dollars for its properties narrow amid Hollywood labor strikes and concerns about the economy. During the TV industry’s recent “upfront,” a market in which TV networks try to sell the bulk of their commercial inventory, media companies in many cases were forced to give “rollbacks,” or take down their rates, as advertisers moved some of their budgets to new streaming and digital options. But Amazon’s Carney says the company began to notice demand for the Black Friday event during its upfront talks — a sign that Madison Avenue is still willing to back sports, even in shaky times.

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