(Bloomberg)—Netflix Inc. will sell merchandise from several of its most popular shows on Walmart Inc.’s website, the largest deal the streaming service has ever made with a national retailer.
Walmart, No. 2 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, will sell toys from Netflix’s kids show “Cocomelon,” baking kits from its reality franchise “Nailed It!” and t-shirts from its latest hit, “Squid Game.” Many of the items sold will be exclusive to Walmart. The partnership starts with seven shows and could expand over time, Netflix said.
After years of focusing all its energies on driving customers to its streaming service, Netflix is trying to turn its most popular shows into franchises that span merchandise, in-person experiences and video games. The company is betting that a sweatshirt or a festival will help market its service and create a more lasting connection between its customers and individual programs.
Netflix created a shopping boutique earlier this year focused at a young, urban clientele. The partnership with Walmart is aimed at middle- and working-class families. While the “Nailed IT!” kits are in physical stores, most of the items will only be available online at first.
“They serve over 150 million customers a week and have more than 125 million monthly visitors on Walmart.com,” John Simon, Netflix’s vice president of consumer products, said in an email. Simon joined Netflix last year to accelerate its consumer products business.
A relative newcomer in Hollywood, Netflix trails most of its biggest competitors when it comes to selling merchandise for its biggest shows. The company has dabbled in toys and other merchandise around “Stranger Things” and a couple of other shows.
Some rivals and partners have questioned whether Netflix’s binge release model, in which shows are released all at once, will limit sales. It’s easier for a kids’ TV show to drive toy sales when it is on every day or every week.
Netflix hadn’t focused much on the business line until recently, concentrating instead on developing TV shows and movies all around the world to draw new customers outside the U.S. The Walmart deal is a sign of its growing ambitions and the willingness of major retailers to work with the company.
One of Netflix’s biggest competitors in streaming video is Amazon, which is the biggest threat to Walmart in retail.
“Walmart is now the official one-stop shop to bring you favorite Netflix series home,” Jeff Evans, an executive vice president in charge of entertainment and toys at Walmart in the U.S., wrote in a blog post.Favorite