Netflix plans to open brick and mortar locations
Updated October 14, 2023 at 5:00 PM ET
Netflix recently shuttered the longstanding mail-order DVD service that led to the closure of video stores around the world and ushered in the era of streaming. But now the company appears to be embracing brick and mortar.
According to a Bloomberg report quoting Josh Simon, the company's vice president of consumer products, Netflix aims to open a network of stores offering retail, dining and live entertainment that leverage its TV shows and movies.
Netflix has not announced what it will be selling at the locations; it's unclear if DVDs or any type of physical media will be part of the inventory.
The streamer plans to open the first two of these "Netflix House" locations in unannounced cities in the U.S. in 2025. It hopes to expand the concept to major cities around the world thereafter.
"We've seen how much fans love to immerse themselves in the world of our movies and TV shows," Simon told Bloomberg. "And we've been thinking a lot about how we take that to the next level."
Netflix did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment.
Though Disney, a major Netflix competitor, has been in the retail, dining and live entertainment spaces for decades, such offerings have not yet been part of Netflix's core brand. But the company has recently been dabbling in these areas.
Earlier this year, the streamer opened a pop-up restaurant in Los Angeles featuring menu items created by chefs associated with Netflix cooking shows. The company has also launched pop-up stores offering merchandise from its hit show Stranger Things in cities such as Paris, Las Vegas and Chicago.
It was also involved in The Queen's Ball: A Bridgerton Experience, a traveling production that recreated sets from the Netflix show Bridgerton with actors, live music and dancing.
It's not unusual for successful online brands to gravitate to the physical world. Amazon, for example, opened brick and mortar stores and acquired Whole Foods Market.
"Netflix is an ecosystem. It opened a merchandise shop a couple of years ago. It's investing in mobile games. It's more than just a place for your remote control to gravitate to at the end of a long day," said Rick Munarriz, a senior media analyst with the investment advice company, The Motley Fool, in a statement to NPR. "Success in the real world through location-based entertainment is the spoils of victory for a leading tastemaker. If Disney and NBC Universal can operate theme parks I give Netflix a decent shot of succeeding with this venture."
But NPR TV critic Eric Deggans is less convinced about Netflix's forays into the real world.
"It sounds like Netflix is trying to do what Disney does," Deggans said. "But Disney has been doing what Disney does for a very long time. And the amount of money Netflix would have to spend to actually compete with them doesn't make any sense to me."
Deggans added: "I think it's some kind of weird experiment that they probably will not do for very long."
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