Netflix’s New Attempt to Gain Subscribers, Build Theme Parks

in Entertainment, Events


Credit: ITM

The Golden Age of Television in the 2000s was not golden for everyone. Networks like AMC, HBO, and ABC were airing classics such as The Sopranos, The Wire, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Grey’s Anatomy, and Breaking Bad. Yet, despite this quality in storytelling, the entire industry was on the verge of collapse by 2008 with a writers’ strike and the Great Recession. While many TV networks were grasping to stay afloat, the once mail-only DVD movie company, Netflix, created an internet streaming service that would revolutionize the entertainment industry forever.

A red envelope with text that reads "Netflix" and "thanks for watching."
Credit: Netflix

Netflix’s streaming platform had humble origins as the company acquired the rights to stream indie or lesser-known studio films digitally. As their subscribers grew, so did Netflix’s revenue. This would inevitably lead to the decision to make original content. The company would invest in both movies and TV. This would lead to award-winning projects like the movie Beasts of No Nation (2015) and the TV series House of Cards (2013).

Kevin Spacey sitting on a couch in House of Cards
Credit: Netflix

The company would hit its stride when it created a franchise that would become a global phenomenon — Strangers Things (2016). This series would become the ‘crown jewel’ for Netflix as it was not only a critically acclaimed hit show, but it carried a diehard fandom who spent millions on branded merchandise.

Stranger Things Hawkins Memories Box Set including picture of Millie Bobby Brown
Credit: Doctor Collector/Netflix

Stranger Things‘ achievement would open the flood gates to other triumphs like, Wednesday, Bridgerton, You, Squid Game, The Umbrella Academy, Cobra Kai, and Ozark. Netflix would capitalize on their several mega hits by creating immersive experiences that ranged from escape room-like experiences like the upcoming Squid Game Trials to themed fan gatherings like the “Bridgerton Experience.” Each event has proven profitable enough that Netflix’s ambition has now prompted them to open retail outlet stores that can evolve into theme parks.

Credit: Netflix

Initially aiming for two U.S. sites in 2025, Netflix has revealed intentions to establish its first permanent brick-and-mortar stores. The company has yet to specify which cities they plan to open in, but they will function something like smaller scale theme parks. The stores will offer food, drink, merchandise and immersive exhibits based on popular shows like Squid Game and Stranger Things.

Vecna coming out of a wall in the Stranger Things 4 house
Credit: Universal Studios

As with its previous IRL activations, Netflix’s strategy to open permanent retail locations is for them to function as marketing tools to promote the streaming service. Some critics could speculate that this tactic is an attempt to encourage new subscribers since the company has failed to gain more consumers since their recent price hikes and password crackdowns.

Credit: Slickdeals

Josh Simon, VP of consumer goods expressed, “We’ve seen how much fans love to immerse themselves in the world of our movies and TV show, and we’ve been thinking a lot about how we take that to the next level.” Simon oversaw the opening of Netflix’s online store, which is filled with unique merchandise inspired by popular franchises such as One Piece, Castlevania Nocturne, Heartstopper, The Witcher, Bridgerton, and Stranger Things.

Netflix's live-action 'One Piece,' featuring Luffy, Nami, and Zoro.
Credit: Netflix

Additionally, Netflix has signed several licensing agreements for tie-ins with its original programming. One such arrangement is for a line of “Scoops Ahoy” ice cream that is sold at Walmart. This fictitious ice creamery was featured as a focal point at the Starcourt Mall during Season Three of Stranger Things. A Squid Game slot machine is also set to debut in casinos in 2024, marking the company’s recent signing of its first consumer product license agreement in the gaming industry.

stranger things maya hawke
Credit: Netflix

What do you think of Netflix’s strategy? Have a pop-up experience is one thing, but will a permanent retail store work for the company?

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