NBCUniversal and PayPal Set Shoppable Push as Holiday Season Ramps Up

Content partnership and retail partner network adds to growing ecommerce arm

PayPal/Today Show promotional image
Branded content, as well as editorial-driven articles and TV segments, will encourage shopping on NBCUniversal Checkout and using PayPal. Courtesy of NBCUniversal

Ahead of the holiday season that’s projected to be the biggest ever, NBCUniversal and PayPal are looking to cash in.

Starting this week, shoppable gift guides and other programming will begin rolling out across six NBCU brands, including Bravo, E!, NBC Sports, Syfy Wire, Telemundo and Today. On-air shoppable branded and editorial TV segments will air during LatinX Now, Un Nuevo Dia, En Casa con Telemundo, Syfy content and E!’s Daily Pop, among other programs, while editorial articles and branded videos will roll out digitally, including across social media.

The gift guides and holiday-centric programming will direct viewers to product pages on NBCUniversal’s Checkout platform, a marketplace where users can shop and purchase products from more than 60 retailers who have signed on to be part of NBCUniversal’s One Platform Commerce partner network. PayPal will be prominently featured as a payment option if users decide to make a purchase, part of a monthslong partnership between the two companies.

The push is another brick in the foundation of NBCUniversal’s growing commerce ambitions, which began several years ago with shoppable television on linear and has since expanded to NBCUniversal Checkout, which rolled out earlier this year as part of the company’s One Platform ad offering. NBCUniversal is working toward an even more expansive commerce footprint where the company can control all parts of consumers’ shopping journeys and capture marketing dollars throughout.

“We want to turn any appropriate piece of content into a shoppable experience—whether that is branded content pieces that we create, or whether it’s editorial pieces that they create,” Josh Feldman, NBCUniversal’s evp, head of marketing and advertising creative, said. “Whether that’s digital-first, social-first, whether it’s linear-first, whether it’s English language or Spanish language, we have the ability to turn any piece of content into a shoppable experience, as long as it truly makes sense and it’s contextually relevant to what we’re doing.”

The shopping guides will roll out through the holiday season, but the partnership with PayPal will extend through 2021, Feldman said.

The expansive push into holiday shopping comes at a crucial inflection point for the retail industry, which is grappling with exploding demand in ecommerce and looking to cash in on a critical holiday season. Analysts are expecting this holiday season to be a record breaker: Adobe Analytics projected in late October that online holiday spend in the U.S. would reach $189 billion through Dec. 31, marking a 33% increase from last year’s spend, with Black Friday alone expected to generate $10 billion in online sales, and $12.7 billion anticipated on the following Cyber Monday.  

PayPal is looking to get a cut of that spend and has already seen an uptick this year. Between January and April, the platform saw an 85% increase in purchases of beauty and personal care items, and a more than 30% increase in U.S. sales of items like clothing and jewelry, according to Jill Cress, PayPal’s vp of consumer marketing.

For NBCUniversal, the surge in ecommerce offers a particularly attractive opportunity after a tough year in the television business as advertising windfalls like live sports evaporated, taking ad revenue with them. (In the second quarter, NBCUniversal’s advertising revenues in both the broadcast and cable side dipped by more than 25% due to Covid-19, before recovering slightly in the most recent quarter.)

Another push into ecommerce gives the media giant a chance to pocket not just the usual ad spend from the holiday, but to also attract advertisers who are not traditionally TV spenders. Of the 60 retailers taking part in the NBCUniversal Checkout marketplace, 95% are not currently advertisers on NBCUniversal, and almost none had previously advertised on television, Feldman said.


@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.
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