A store for the planet’s largest online streaming service stuck inside the website of America’s largest big-box retailer? The world’s seen Stranger Things.
On Monday, Netflix announced it has Nailed It! by teaming up with Walmart to launch a dedicated digital storefront on the retail giant’s website, selling products spun off from its popular shows. There may be 13 Reasons Why, but here’s the main one: It’s part of Netflix’s broader strategy to build out revenue streams and marketing beyond its core subscription business.
The Streamer’s Gambit
With over 200 million subscribers, Netflix holds The Crown for being the world’s top streaming service. But slowing subscriber growth — especially in the U.S., where it faces competition from Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, and Amazon’s Prime Video — has prompted a long, hard look in the Black Mirror. In the second quarter, the service added just 1.5 million subscribers compared to 10 million in the same period a year ago.
Cue the new business lines:
- Netflix already has T-shirts, stickers, dolls, and other merch available via several online retailers, but the Walmart deal — which will focus on hit shows like Squid Game and The Witcher — will create its first digital storefront at a national level. Netflix also set up its own store, Netflix.shop.
- The streamer has also launched a new videogame unit, which will make mobile games for the company’s app. Consumer spending on games is projected to reach $175.8 billion this year, according to Newzoo BV, and half of that will come from mobile games.
“The reason we’re doing them is to help the subscription service grow and be more important in people’s lives,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said of the company’s new lines, on a call with Wall Street analysts. He noted he doesn’t expect them to make significant money.
Why Walmart?: Walmart, long associated with bargains, is trying to make like Emily in Paris and attach itself to more upmarket brands. It partnered with The Gap this year for a new line of home goods, and has launched its own series of higher-end fashion lines.