Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+... are streaming platforms becoming a place for sales?
The third season of Emily in Paris, released on December 21 2022, is an opportunity for Netflix to multiply its collaborations with fashion brands and product placements. For its part, Disney+ announced at the beginning of November its plan to sell, directly via its streaming platform, derivative products from its films and series. This is a path that Netflix would also like to pursue, as it has already introduced advertisements into its offer. Linked to the Amazon marketplace, Prime Video faces different challenges, but a similar objective: to find the keys to eventually offer brands advertising opportunities, product placement and, one day, direct sales via their video streaming platforms.
"When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell shoes, and it happens in a very direct way," explained Jeff Bezos in 2016, when the Amazon founder was asked about the strategy for Prime Video. Six years later, the market for "Netflix-like" offers has become denser with the appearance of Apple TV+, HBO Max and Hulu.
After the arrival of a new major player, Disney+, it is the profitability of these platforms that is now guiding their reflection and commercial ambitions.
With a deficit, Netflix has announced the end or cancellation of seventeen series in 2022, while seasons are tending to get shorter for the remaining shows. Due to rate hikes and the launch of a low-cost offer including ads for the first time, the platform would have lost nearly one million subscribers in the second quarter of 2022 alone.
Disney+, which is also making a loss, is also choosing to raise its rates and hopes to generate profits in 2024. But how? By expanding online retail, Disney+ said this summer, a year after Netflix launched its own sales portal.
And, as for Netflix, this Disney+ commercial platform will be, at least initially, reserved for products related to the company's licenses including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, 21st Century Fox and others. There is even talk of a premium subscription model that will open up a range of exclusive services and benefits, similar to Amazon's Prime account that gives access to Prime Video. It is already possible for American subscribers to use their Disney+ accounts to connect to the Disney online store. But that's just the first step.
In the near future, while watching programmes, users should be offered the opportunity to go to the shopping pages for derivative products from the show in question via a QR code that appears on the screen. This is just one of the ways in which an e-commerce service could be integrated into streaming.
"Privileged access to this selection of products is the latest example of the many avenues we are exploring to improve the user experience on Disney+," said Disney+ president Alisa Bowen in early November, during a test conducted in the run-up to the holiday season. A viability test that was aimed at future external advertisers. For the time being, Nike, Crocs, Coach Harveys, Pandora, Kate Spade, Danielle Nicole or Native are among the many partner brands offered on the ShopDisney.com sales portal... where references to the Disney+ films and series corresponding to each product are omnipresent.
Instant purchase and product placement
It has to be said that this possibility of buying in a few clicks while watching a program has long been a fantasy of the commercial department. Already at the arrival of TV replay platforms, many worked towards offering this option to advertisers. Advertisers were then harder to find, at a time when younger consumers were turning away from television to the Internet.
It is precisely on the Internet that the video platforms are finding their first competitors: social networks. The latter have been working hard for years, with varying degrees of success, to find the right formula for "social commerce". Now the patriarch of online video platforms, Youtube has long exploited the algorithms of its parent company Google to push products related to the content they watch to viewers.
A product placement that is becoming more refined
Product placement in programmes is an important commercial axis for platforms such as Netflix, and it is expected to continue to rise, reaching 27 billion dollars in revenue worldwide in 2022 alone, according to PQ Media. As such, Emily in Paris has become a vehicle of choice for luxury and premium brands. The third season of the Netflix series features pieces by Barbara Bui, Giambattista Valli, Leonard Paris, Skorpios, Dinh Van and Livystone.
This source of revenue, combined with a marketplace, also makes it possible to take advantage of the latest product virtualisation technologies: depending on the country or the type of viewer, the hero of a series can now wear different brands. And why not, in the long term, according to the age and tastes of the subscribers.
Collaborative programmes with brands
For Netflix, a new step has just been taken. The streaming platform is starting 2023 by offering a sports TV programme developed with Nike, whose logo cannot be missed during the workout. An open door to a new type of partnership for Netflix, which had already multiplied its collaborations with prestigious brands.
For Netflix, these collaborations may hold the promise of a dream profit. And for brands, the platform is an opportunity to reach out to new audiences. And this even in the physical world. Notably though themed pop-up stores in the colours of films and series. A Stranger Things concept store has moved from the famous Champs-Elysées avenue in Paris to Miami and Dallas in 2022.
Nike, H&M and Levi's communicated extensively in 2019 about their collaboration with the Stranger Things series. In 2021, it was Olivier Rousteing who contributed to a collaboration between Balmain and the Netflix film The Harder They Fall. According to our information, a French high-end sportswear brand is preparing to announce a collaboration with five of the platform's most prominent shows.
The Bridgerton series, which has had a pop-up at Bloomingdale's in New York, and is said to have influenced internet searches for clothing and designs, is leading to an international tour of theatrical balls, featuring products from brands inspired by the series. With the British Fashion Council as a partner in the creation of the costumes, the series has led to collaborations with young fashion brand Stradivarius, Malone shoes and Beekman 1802 cosmetics.
Proving that the model works
The fact remains that, behind these collaborations, streaming is at a turning point. After the multiplication of competitors, it is time for a rationalisation which could scare off viewers who are now used to the absence of advertising on these platforms and who are unhappy with the recent price increases.
Including its sister platforms Hulu and ESPN+, Disney+ had 235.7 million subscribers at the end of 2022, compared to 223 million for Netflix. Prime Video, for its part, claims to have more than 200 million subscribers to Amazon's Prime programme.
Amazon is naturally in a class of its own, as Prime Video is merely an extension of a marketplace. However, here again the challenge is to find the right balance between viewing and buying. However, Amazon seems to have an advantage over its competitors: a Prime subscriber spends an average of $1,400 a year on the platform, compared to $600 for the others. By targeting a Prime Video viewer, a brand would therefore be targeting the customers most likely to spend.
On the other hand, Disney+ and Netflix are moving forward at a snail's pace, still concentrating for the time being on spin-offs of their in-house films and series. Disney has an advantage, namely the historical networks for the development and production of its derivative products. Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars licences are indeed long established, from the world of toys to that of adult collectibles. Netflix, a mere audiovisual producer and broadcaster has its work cut out for it. It still has to prove, over time, its ability to connect brands and potential consumers. And perhaps become a sales platform.
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