The National Football League is partnering with Amazon to bring thousands of officially licensed products to the retail giant, a move that could transform the multibillion-dollar market for fan gear.
Up until now, the assortment of official NFL products on Amazon’s marketplace has been fairly limited. On the heels of last week’s $105 billion media deals, however, the NFL will be expanding its offering of everything from replica jerseys to headwear and tailgating products.
Starting Wednesday afternoon, much of the product available on the NFL’s official online shop will become available on Amazon as well. Authorized sellers include NFL Pro Line, Fanatics, New Era and Outerstuff, many of the league’s biggest partners outside of Nike, whose products won’t be included.
It’s unclear if this is a pilot program or a long-term partnership. Both the NFL and Amazon declined to comment on the financial arrangement.
The partnership is a convergence of three superlative companies—the world’s richest sports league (NFL), the world’s largest retailer (Amazon) and the world’s largest seller of licensed fan gear (Fanatics). Fanatics operates the NFL’s online store and will be opening an NFL Shop storefront on Amazon’s website in the near future, its first time selling on Amazon’s platform.
“Amazon continues to collaborate with the NFL to enhance our customer experience,” Amazon said in a statement, “and we look forward to expanding our assortment of NFL products.”
The product expansion comes less than a week after the NFL finalized a new series of media deals worth $105 billion. In addition to extensions with its legacy TV partners, the NFL expanded its streaming relationship with Amazon, which now has exclusive rights to show most of the Thursday night slate. Amazon paid $50 million in its first year with NFL rights; it will pay $1.32 billion under this new agreement.
Though this fan gear partnership is separate from that media negotiation, they are strategically connected. Linking exclusive rights—live or otherwise—with its core ecommerce business is of paramount importance for Amazon. Its new NFL media deal includes a league option to give Amazon a regular season game on Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. And last August, the company launched a storefront for English soccer club Tottenham Hotspur in connection to an Amazon Prime docuseries it was releasing about the team.
That said, official sports apparel is a rare area of ecommerce where Amazon isn’t dominant. That’s due in part to Fanatics, which has more or less cornered the industry (in addition to the league itself, it has partnerships with 25 NFL clubs). Much of the new product on Amazon will come through the NFL Shop, which is operated by Fanatics, with some other sellers also mixed in. Fanatics doesn’t currently sell on Amazon, making this a new frontier for Michael Rubin’s company, which was valued at $12.8 billion in a funding round earlier this week.
This partnership will not include product from Nike, the NFL’s official on-field partner for authentic jerseys and sideline apparel. Nike pulled its product from Amazon in 2019, ending a pilot program it began in 2017, amid an overhaul of the sportswear giant’s retail strategy.
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