Target rolls out an "As Seen on Shark Tank" section, juicing the hit show's already impressive reach

By Michael Carney , written on August 14, 2014

From The News Desk

Shark Tank already holds the crown as the capital source that also offers the widest distribution to Main Street Americans. As we’ve discussed previously, if an entrepreneur wishes to get a product or service in front of tens of millions of consumers, the prime time and syndicated TV show is easily among the best possible options.

Recently, however, this already compelling narrative got even better as the ABC show received its own section in Target stores: “As Seen on Shark Tank.” According to a Facebook post by Mark Cuban today, "In a few weeks we will be in over 1k stores!" In the first five hours, that post has been liked nearly 5,000 times and received hundreds of comments.

The "As seen on" concept should be familiar to anyone who’s ever bought a product formerly available only via informercial in a retail store and seen that red “As Seen on TV” logo. The brand even spawned a chain of its own proprietary brick and mortar locations.

Astoundingly, this is the first attempt by the show to sell products featured on its episodes. links out to a SharktankTV ecommerce shop (shockingly behind a domain) but the only products available are logo-ed merchandise like T-shirts and coffee mugs. Talk about a missed opportunity.

There is, however an “As Seen on Shark Tank” online storefront, operated by Rob Merlino, who also owns the The About section of the site reads:

Rob Merlino’s Shark Tank Blog operates independently of ABC’s Shark Tank reality TV show. We are not affiliated with ABC, Sony Pictures, or any other “Shark Tank entities.” Readers benefit from exclusive connections with entrepreneurs appearing on the show. We also associate with the Sharks when opportunity presents itself, so that we can offer fans the scoop on all the hot gossip.
It’s a fair bet that will receive a cease and desist letter from the show’s creators in short order, if it hasn’t already. An official “As Seen on Shark Tank” ecommerce store can’t be far behind.

When platforms like Shark Tank build awareness for a new product, it seems like an obvious next step to continue retailing those products long into the future. When a viewer lands on ABC’s Shark Tank page and reads episode recaps, it makes perfect sense for those products to be available for purchase. Why should the consumer then have to click away to a separate site, or worse, conduct a Google search to find the product? For the platform, it’s a source of additional revenue, while for the company behind the product, its a way of offering a good customer experience.

Kickstarter, for example, has long ignored this same opportunity while professing at every turn that it’s “not a store.” But several of the company competitors, like Crowd Supply, have proven all too happy to step in where the company falls short. There’s no good reason for Kickstarter, or ABC in this case, to leave this easy money on the table.

Shark Tank certainly isn’t the right option for all startups, but until the WalMart in Dubuque, IL rolls out an “As Backed by Sequoia” section in its store, the ABC show will remain the best way for entrepreneurs to source capital that simultaneously delivers massive global distribution.