Amazon Goes The Distance With IRONMAN


Amazon recently announced that the company would become the 2018 IRONMAN World Championship title sponsor and Official Sports Nutrition Retailer. Amazon has recently been making news in the sports industry for signing streaming rights deals including NFL and US Open events and looked to be increasing its investment in this area.

That fact that Amazon did not acquire streaming rights makes the IRONMAN partnership more interesting. Why would Amazon agree to this deal if it did not include streaming rights?

A relationship with IRONMAN enables Amazon to directly monetize its core business of selling consumer products. More specifically, “The collaboration will provide participants access to a vast selection of nutrition products, including items from IRONMAN official nutrition partners CLIF Bar and Gatorade, available to athletes looking to prove ‘ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE’ on the sports largest stage.” This includes a pop-up IRONMAN store on Amazon’s website “stocked with brands from the event’s official nutrition partners, such as CLIF Bar and Gatorade.”

IRONMAN’s ability to drive traffic to Amazon’s website site highlights an important feature we are seeing in more and more partnerships. In particular, the fact that sports partnerships can clearly show how companies can tangibly generate incremental revenue growth is becoming increasing important in the sports industry.

However, this relationship has a less intuitive benefit for IRONMAN. One reason that companies become partners with sports properties is to gain access to other partners. For example, business-to-business (B2B) companies use their partnerships with sports properties to engage with potential clients at games, events, and / or corporate outings.

In the past, it has been arguably more difficult for business-to-consumer (B2C) companies to secure this type of benefit from sports partnerships. IRONMAN’s relationship with Amazon provides new opportunities to generate incremental revenue growth for its B2C partners. To start, CLIF Bar and Gatorade now are featured on Amazon’s website through the IRONMAN branded store. If this is successful, then it is possible that IRONMAN could have a similar relationship with its other partners through Amazon (e.g., potentially having a Greenlayer Amazon store for IRONMAN apparel).

Being featured on Amazon is a significant competitive advantage for these companies that compete in the consumer products space, as the majority of many companies’ ecommerce revenues come from Amazon. IRONMAN can credibly say that other rights holders would not be able to provide partners with this type of exposure on the world’s largest ecommerce platform.

Amazon should continue to explore new sports streaming rights deals. However, IRONMAN’s relationship with Amazon shows an innovative way to use the ecommerce platform that can benefit multiple partners at the same time.