Jun 11, 2021 - Economy

Netflix spreads its wings

Gif of Netflix flexing

Illustration:Rebecca Zisser/Axios

After years of dominating video streaming, Netflix is beginning to eye new business lines that could help it stay ahead of competitors.

Driving the news: The company on Thursday unveiled an online merchandise store, Netflix.shop, that features products inspired by shows on its streaming platform.

  • The store marks Netflix's first foray into commerce — something other entertainment giants like Disney and NBCUniversal have long used to make more money and expand their content franchises.
  • The tech giant is eyeing gaming, possibly with the launch of a suite of downloadable mobile games, per Axios' Stephen Totilo.
  • It's also pushing deeper into podcasts as a vehicle to promote its shows and movies, per the Los Angeles Times.

Be smart: Netflix's new ventures may help the streaming giant make a little more ancillary cash, but ultimately these investments are about finding more ways to help its audience connect to its streaming content and characters.

  • Disney has a similar model, using its massive library of characters and classics to create theme parks, cruise lines and resort experiences.

The big picture: For years, Netflix owned the video streaming market, amassing a massive subscriber base while other entertainment companies fell way behind.

  • But over the past few months, the company has started to face increased competition from established streaming services like Amazon Prime and Hulu, and new competitors, including Disney+, NBCU's Peacock, HBO Max, Discovery+, Paramount+ and others.

What to watch: Netflix has pivoted its business model before from DVDs to streaming, so if any of these new ventures were to manifest into something meaningful, the company has proved it isn't afraid to double down on what works.

Go deeper: Streaming competitors close in on Netflix in U.S.

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