What Is NBTV?
NBTV is a DTC commerce and personalization platform. The company was initially launched in 2008 by entrepreneur Nick Buzzell as a studio producing branded content for large enterprises. Though the company still produces branded content, it is now more technologically advanced. In 2018, Buzzell created a new division of the company, NBTV Channels, which produces marketing content for businesses that can also be used to purchase the products — in other words, shoppable platforms. To produce this, the company uses OTT (over-the-top), mobile, and integrated commerce technology.
The most recent iteration of this is the Spirits Network channel, which is a channel where shoppers can purchase alcohol directly from the screen. In a recent interview with Crunchbase about the expansion of his business, Buzzell likened the platform to a “Netflix meets QVC” experience. “We were doing shoppable video commerce prior to COVID-19, but saw the opportunity and the writing on the wall in terms of people wanting instant gratification,” Buzzell said, noting that a key tactic of his business is to be a “specialist instead of a generalist.”
Money and Investors
It’s unclear exactly how much the company has raised to date. According to Crunchbase, NBTV pulled in $100,000 in a seed round in March of last year and then raised an undisclosed sum of money in April. In addition to the $10 million raised in the Series A round, the business raised another $5 million toward the launch of the Spirits Network channel, Buzzell told Crunchbase.
This funding for the business came from Branded Strategic Hospitality, a New York-based venture capital firm, family offices, and a group of angel investors. Also involved in the round were David Nichols, the president of Spirit Networks, and high-net-worth investors Mark Bezos and John Esposito.
The Future of the Company
The Spirits Network launch comes after a strong few years of growth for NBTV. The company has seen its customer base grow more than 500% since 2018, when NBTV Channels were launched, with 35% of customers purchasing on a regular basis. Customers are also spending more money through the platform, according to Buzzell, who said the average cart size has increased from $100 to $200 as the channels gain millions of views per month.
With Spirits Network, the company is hoping to tap into a massive boom in demand in the alcohol ecommerce market. A report from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, which tracks the industry, projected that the global ecommerce market for spirits and wines nearly doubled in 2020 (increasing 42%). By comparison, alcohol ecommerce sales grew just 19% in 2019. The number of alcohol ecommerce shoppers has also massively increased specifically within the US, the analysis shows.
This amounts to a growing potential customer base for NBTV. However, alcohol isn’t the only focus of the company. According to the founder, this will likely be a jumping-off point for the business to expand in other segments. “We see NBTV channels as a new category in direct-to-consumer advertising and monetization as it relates to sales,” Buzzell told Crunchbase.
About the Author
Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.