Move over, "Netflix and chill," and make way for "Netflix and shop."
Taking a page from Disney, the video streamer debuted an online store for selling merchandise tied to its shows and brand on Thursday. Collectibles and streetwear from anime series "Yasuke" and "Eden" are now available, soon to be followed by apparel and decorative items from the French hit, "Lupin," designed in collaboration with the Louvre Museum.
Netflix's category expansion upon its intellectual property is a page from the playbooks of Disney and NBCUniversal, both of whom have long sold merchandise to squeeze revenue from the characters, stories and brands they bring to life on screen.
The online shop is Netflix's first direct foray into commerce. It comes on the heels of the company's forecast that 2021 will be the first year it can pay for its own projects without needing to raise external financing. First available in the U.S., the store will roll out to other countries in the coming months, according to a company statement.
Products are all limited-edition, with a current price range of $30 to $135. Upcoming lines will include merchandise tied to "Stranger Things" and "The Witcher."
The site sports a distinctive Netflix style and highlights the company's merchandise partnerships with three of what it calls "up-and-coming designers": Jordan Bentley, Nathalie Nguyen, and Kristopher Kites.
"We love it when great stories transcend screens and become part of people's lives," Netflix VP of Consumer Products Josh Simon wrote in a blog post. "We're always looking at how we can extend the world of our stories for fans, from apparel and toys to immersive events and games. And it's why today we're launching Netflix.shop as an exciting new destination combining curated products and rich storytelling in a uniquely Netflix shopping experience."
Simon left a similar role at Nike for Netflix in early 2020.
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Disney CEO Bob Chapek doesn't think consumers want to wait 45 days for movies to arrive on their streaming services.
Speaking at a conference hosted by J.P. Morgan on Monday, Chapek didn't say whether that would drive moviegoers to the theaters or drive companies like his to put films on their services faster, but one thing is clear: the pandemic upended one of Hollywood's oldest paradigms.
Asked whether shortening a film's theatrical-only exhibition period to 45 days might induce more consumers to wait to watch on streaming platforms, Chapek said, "I don't think people have that much patience, to be honest with you."
His own company reorganized during the pandemic, thrusting resources at streaming, as the world shifted.
The theatrical window has been one of traditional Hollywood's biggest losers coming out of the pandemic. Already considered by some insiders as a relic of a pre-streaming era Tinseltown, when the coronavirus shuttered theaters, streaming services began pushing the window tighter as they released new films directly to consumers on their platforms.
At its last earnings call Disney announced that two films, "Shang-Chi" and "Free Guy," would receive a 45-day window. Marvel blockbuster "Black Widow", however, will be released simultaneously on Disney Plus and in theaters in July.
Chapek emphasized Monday that Disney's priority has been to give fans the flexibility to watch where they want.
"I think the consumers have realized that they've got the power," he said. "We're a consumer-friendly company, and we'll follow their lead."
Chapek had little to say about the competitive threat posed by a newly merged WarnerMedia-Discovery streaming platform. He highlighted Disney Plus' acquisition of 100 million subscribers in just 16 months as a sign that his company is on the right path.
"This frankly, for us, doesn't really change much at all," he said.
To explain Disney Plus' surprisingly strong growth that led the company to revise its subscriber projections to up to 260 million by 2024, Chapek reemphasized Disney Plus' unexpectedly high penetration among non-family households. He also pointed to upcoming changes as signals for ongoing growth.
Disney's parks, which Chapek called his "secret weapon," will help drive more users to its streaming platforms, he said.
"For the very first time, we've got the opportunity to take our original direct-to-consumer business, which is our parks business, and use it for our newest direct-to-consumer business," Chapek said, referring to streaming.
"We've got a tremendous amount of information on our consumers from our parks business," he added, indicating that this trove of data could help drive further Disney Plus subscriptions.
Chapek further noted that only in 2022 will Disney Plus' content pipeline be running full steam. He also hinted that more sports may be coming to Disney's streaming platforms.
"When the time is right to really stomp on the gas and go even stronger into our direct-to-consumer platforms for sports, we'll do that," he said.
With more content may come a heftier price tag, however. Having noted that the recent price increase of Disney Plus to $7.99 per month didn't result in any material subscriber losses, Chapek said more hikes could be forthcoming.
"We'll reserve the right to increase our price-value relationship through further pricing actions as we add more content and get to that point where we're adding a new piece of content, essentially, every week," he said.
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More than a year after closing, Disneyland and California Adventure will reopen their doors on April 30 with limited capacity and fewer rides.
"We've seen the enthusiasm, the craving for people to return to our parks around the world," CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC on Wednesday. "We've been operating at Walt Disney World for about nine months, and there certainly is no shortage of demand."
The company is asking guests to make a reservation through Disneyland Resort's new system, although Disney did not say when it would go live.
But for guests lucky enough to nab a slot: no screaming on rides, please.
The opening comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced earlier this month that theme parks could reopen under limited capacity starting April 1. And with screaming restricted on thrill rides like Disney's Space Mountain - so as not to spread the coronavirus. Under the plan, parks in the red tier can have 15% capacity and 25% in the orange tier. Orange County is currently in the red tier.
Live performances and sporting events will also pick back up come April 1, with restrictions varying in each county.
For months, officials and Disney have asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to reopen the Anaheim park. The closure of Disneyland and California Adventure hit the company's bottom line hard, forcing the entertainment giant to layoff thousands of workers as Disney sunk its resources into streaming services.
"I think as people become vaccinated, they become a little bit more confident in the fact that they can travel, and, you know, stay COVID-free," he added. "Consumers trust Disney to do the right thing, and we've certainly proven that we can [open] responsibly, whether it's temperature checks, masks, social distancing [or] improved hygiene around the parks."
Disney said that experiences that draw large group gatherings — think parades and firework displays — will return at a later date.
To enter the park, guests aged 3 and up will show a park reservation and valid admission for the same park. For now, only California residents can visit the parks to adhere with current state guidelines.
Several of the surrounding Disney hotels will also open including the Grand Californian on April 29 and the Vacation Club Villas on May 2.
Here are the rides slated to open at Disneyland:
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- It's A Small World
- Indian Jones Adventure
- Space Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- King Arthur Carrousel
- "New magic" at Haunted Mansion
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
And at California Adventure:
- Toy Story Midway Mania
- The Little Mermaid — Ariel's Undersea Adventure
- The Incredicoaster
- Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Snow White's Enchanted Wish
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