NBCUniversal’s Peacock expands shoppable TV to six Bravo series

NBCUniversal’s Peacock is getting more shoppable.

On Wednesday at its One24 technology conference NBCU announced an expansion of shoppable TV and new commerce-enabled capabilities for its Peacock streaming service, as well as linear properties.

Specifically, NBCU is expanding its “Must Shop TV” capability to six unscripted Bravo series on Peacock and introducing a new “Virtual Concession” feature that prompts last-mile food and beverage delivery for viewers ahead of long TV sessions like sporting events or a movie marathon.

Must Shop TV is a feature introduced at last year’s One24 conference that uses AI-powered technology from KERV Interactive to scan programming and identify and match products in episodes of TV shows, enabling viewers to “shop the look” and browse and purchase similar items to what they see on their TV.  Peacock piloted this last year with Walmart on select episodes of Bravo’s “Below Deck,” where Walmart’s catalog of products was paired to find exact or very similar matches of items used in the TV show and used commerce-enabled ads with QR codes. 

NBCU now has a year of “Must Shop TV” experience under its belt and the pilot was a major success, according to Josh Feldman, Global Chief Marketing Officer for NBCUniversal Advertising & Partnerships. During a round table with reporters this week ahead of NBCU’s One24 technology showcase, Feldman said that for the “Below Deck” pilot, it saw engagement rate rise about 379% on shoppable ads versus traditional ads.

Josh Feldman NBCU Headshot
Josh Feldman (NBCUniversal)

“So people are really really leaned in when it’s something that’s applicable and contextual to what they’re watching,” he commented.

 Now the Must Shop TV feature is expanding to select episodes of Bravo series “Love Island USA,” “Southern Charm,” “Summer House,” “Top Chef,” and “Winter House,” as well as “Below Deck” for the upcoming broadcast year.

Enabling commerce where it fits, not where it doesn’t

NBCU has been “on a mission to bring commerce to all screens” over the past few years through a variety of means and channels, be it linear, streaming, digital or experiential like BravoCon, according to Feldman.

However, it’s not looking to make every episode or all content shoppable, the marketing chief emphasized, but rather inject commerce elements into “any appropriate piece of content.”

“But if it’s additive to the overall experience on whatever screen you’re on, we would like for our marketing partners to have the ability to sell products in real-time,” Feldman said.

This strategy enables NBCU to “democratize” who the company can speak to across its portfolio, he noted, including pulling more types of brands into the fold.

“We’ve created commerce opportunities for the biggest of the big box retailers all the way down to very small direct-to-consumer brands and allow them to partake in our IP in different ways, at different levels,” Feldman said.

Another benefit of commerce-enabled features, according to the marketing chief, is that NBCU has greater control of the full funnel, from brand awareness down to conversion.

“What we see are search results go through the roof when we do commerce enabled opportunities with commerce-enabled ads, all the way through actual sales results and conversions,” he said.

And for consumers, shoppable TV like with Bravo franchises means NBCU eliminating the need for viewers to hunt down a product they like and see on TV separately on their own, while being conscious to not hamper the viewing experience.

“If we ever make it that [shoppable TV] becomes distracting to the viewing experience, that’s problematic,” Feldman commented. “So we’re being very very select on doing it with a certain number of episodes for a certain number of shows.”

That means the number of shoppable episodes for each series will vary, where the initial “Below Deck” pilot had three commerce-enabled episodes and Feldman said it would probably increase from there.

Being selective also means that not all shows are a fit. NBCU’s expansion of shoppable TV is centered on series that are all unscripted or reality TV. Feldman noted unscripted programming is where it has the most flexibility, including trying to choose shows where NBCU has influence on production. That contrasts to scripted series, which he acknowledged present more of a challenge for commerce  – in part because of implied endorsement of products by the talent starring in programs.

That said, Feldman confirmed NBCU “will be rolling this [shoppable TV] out into scripted programming,” and is “actively talking” to a number of scripted shows, including one he suggested is just short of being ready to announce. And when it comes to scripted, NBCU is likely to target a more pop culture-focused scripted show than say a serial drama that might not be the right mood for a shoppable TV experience.

But unscripted is where it’s starting for commerce-enabled capabilties and is also focused on picking series that have strong franchise fandom. “Fan engagement is huge,” Feldman said, and primed for commerce elements, on series like “Love Island” – where viewers tend to be “pretty fanatical” fans as opposed to more passive fans.

What’s available in retail partners’ product catalogs to feature in shows is also a consideration. While Walmart was its initial pilot partner and NBCU doesn’t have any other named partners as of yet, Feldman affirmed the company could talk to other brands if it wanted to.

In addition, the Peacock shoppable TV experience, the company’s piloting an interactive shoppable integration of NBCU’s Checkout platform on Comcast’s X1 set-top box platform for select episodes of “Top Chef” where fans can use their remote to pause an episode to browse and buy exact products in the show.  Initially the proof-of-concept utilizes QR codes for checkout, but ultimately aims to have full purchase capabilities from the TV, with billing information prepopulated.

While NBCU will test both on-screen and second-screen shopping enablement, Feldman thinks down the road, the less friction and fewer screens the better.

“My bet for long-term is that whether it’s within programming, or within commerce enabled advertising, that doing it on one screen – your big screen, which is where the majority of viewership comes from when it comes to entertainment-based programming, will be the least friction way,” he said.

Virtual Concession

NBCU on Wedendsay also announced a new commerce-enabled feature it dubs “Virtual Concessions.”

The idea is to partner with last-mile delivery services that offer food, beverages or other products, and have viewers stock up before they settle in for a highly-anticipated sporting event or movie binge marathon.

NBCU is looking to tap into behavior, as Feldman noted that its platforms have a ton of either live or long-form movie viewership. The difference, he said, between Virtual Concessions and just going onto a delivery service app is that NBCU is “going to integrate this into the fabric of the programming itself.”

The feature will be rolling out across the NBCU portfolio but is starting with the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games broadcast.  Implementations could include announcers giving a reminder or prompt to order last-minute beverages before a match starts, or during halftime of a sporting event. There will also be sponsored custom opens for Peacock original movies. NBCU hasn’t named any partners for the feature as of yet.

“We think this is just a fun way to be able to go and buy those last minute items and have them to your house in time for the start of your programming based upon the way we’re rolling it out to the audience,” Feldman said.  On broadcast and cable platforms, the Virtual Concessions will be QR-enabled, whereas streaming on Peacock there could be a carousel of products to scroll through and see different options available.  

Other streamers have also been testing shoppable and interactive ad capabilities, including Roku, which last year marked shoppable ad partnerships with DoorDash, Shopify, Walmart and others. Disney earlier this year debuted a streaming shoppable ad beta program.