Trends & Features

T-commerce – switch on and tune in to the future of shopping

The notion of consumers wanting to purchase products from their TV screen has been around for years.

TV shopping channels

Its nearly 25 years since TV shopping channel QVC first opened its doors in the UK and, after a rather shaky start, the business has continued to grow and evolve where others – most notably JJB and Argos – have failed to gain traction in the marketplace.

Of course things have changed dramatically since the mid 1990s. We now consume our TV content in so many different ways whether it be mobile, catch up, streaming, sitting at our desk or sitting on the sofa, giving us an almost unlimited flexibility.

The growth of eCommerce

During that same time frame our shopping experiences have also evolved. The internet and eCommerce came along allowing us more freedom of choice as to when, where and how we purchase products.

It was with these two thoughts in mind that I read with interest the recent announcement that Amazon had outbid Sky to win exclusive ATP tour tennis rights. The Amazon Prime streaming service will now show nearly all elite men’s tennis events, except the four grand slams.

A few weeks later Ed Woodward, Manchester United vice-chairman, was commenting in a call with analysts that he believes Amazon and Facebook are likely to bid for Premier League streaming rights in the future.

Its a development that, on the surface, simply underlines that our TV habits are shifting. However dig a little deeper and a vision of the future begins to materialise.


For years commentators have talked about the potential to purchase goods through your TV whilst watching sport. Imagine rolling the mouse of a TV remote control over the football boots that have just scored or the shirt that a certain tennis player is wearing. The price and option to buy comes up and the transaction is made with one click. The result – TV (or T-) commerce.

T-commerce — interactive shopping integrated with programming — has been a small but growing space for the past five years or so. US company Delivery Agent had been at the forefront, powering the “shoppable” Katy Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX half-time show in 2015 among other projects. Customers included Discovery, NBCU, Fox, CBS, HBO, Showtime, CBS, FX, Turner, Comcast, Cablevision Systems, AT&T and Verizon, among others, along with studios such as Lionsgate, Legendary and Sony Pictures.

However, in 2016 they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Some questioned whether the filing represented a death knell for t-commerce, The Wall Street Journal, however, noted that the filing comes after Delivery Agent’s plans for an IPO failed, and added that a lack of a scalable platform, too much expense in its operations and overspending completed the company’s woes.

Imagine then that a huge global organisation was to embrace T-commerce and overcome such issues. A company that already has a massive Ecommerce AND TV streaming service. Imagine that this company brings these two elements together in the sports world, and imagine the impact that this might have. In my opinion that company could be Amazon.


We are all aware of the continued impact the company has on the sporting goods (and TV) industry. It’s a small step to imagine that whilst sporting rights brings a new subscription (Amazon Prime) audience, could these same rights also be monetised through a clever T-commerce strategy?

After all there is already a huge amount of sports product for sale within Amazon. To begin to link these lines back into streaming, to evolve the Amazon Firestick remote control to navigate in screen purchases and to ultimately drive additional revenue seems a logical bringing together of TV and sports.

The key point, as I see it, is that Amazon is an Ecommerce business moving into the TV space as opposed to, for example, Sky who are through and through TV/media company who do not have the expertise to really drive ecommerce success.

This fundamental difference would allow Amazon to address the T-commerce opportunity in a way that Sky (or for that matter many other broadcasters) would be unable to.

Let’s think deeper about the Amazon marketplace model. If marketplace sellers in the sporting goods industry had the chance to put their listings in a streaming environment then the ad revenue opportunity for Amazon and the additional sales opportunity for that seller looks interesting.

Not only could a marketplace seller bid to place their listing predominately within the traditional Amazon listings, they may also be able to bid to place that item on screen during a sports event which was being streamed by Amazon.

In the same way the traditional wholesale/brand partners, such as Nike and adidas who sell direct to Amazon would be able to bring a deeper marketing strategy to the relationship. Launching a new product at a sporting event streamed by Amazon with the opportunity for the viewer to purchase this new item in one click certainly seems a compelling proposition and would enable a much stronger connection between sales and marketing strategies as well as the ability to clear track the P&L of such an activity.

Time will tell whether the T-commerce route is indeed one that Amazon will explore. What is, however, clear, in my opinion, is that, despite the Delivery Agent bankruptcy, the merger of sporting rights and the ability to retail sporting goods (and any other products) products on screen appear to be a logical development within our industry.

I will watch the space with eager anticipated.

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