Video rental stores were once a bright spot for families after a long week, but the meteoric rise in streaming service popularity resulted in brick-and-mortar shops shutting down. Now it looks like we’ve come full circle. Netflix aims to get viewers off the couch with physical “experience” stores, the first of which are set to open in the U.S. in 2025 and eventually expand worldwide.
The streamer’s venues, or “Netflix House,” will offer patrons themed food, show merchandise, the chance to meet actors, and watch ticketed shows, according to Android Authority via Bloomberg (a paywalled publication.) Visitors might also get to try a Squid Game-inspired obstacle course.
“We’ve seen how much fans love to immerse themselves in the world of our movies and TV shows, and we’ve been thinking a lot about how we take that to the next level,” Netflix’s VP of Consumer Products, Josh Simon, told Bloomberg.
Opening elaborate in-person locations is a significant undertaking when a majority of streaming platforms are struggling to maintain — or achieve — profitability. It’s not known at this time how much the “Netflix House” experience will cost, but customers might be less inclined to splurge if inflation continues to rise. Currently, belts are tightening across the board in response to uncertain economic times. Streaming services are an easy way for households to save some money. Over the last few years, monthly spending on streaming subscriptions has declined 25% from $90 in 2021 to $73 in 2023, according to data from Parks Associates.
However, Disney has seen success in the past with immersive pop-up events like The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience which let fans of the period drama, Bridgerton, have their own version of elegant evening in the Regency era.
Stranger Things has its own pop-up event, and shows with enough of a dedicated fan base may make the effort to visit these stores.
Netflix reported a subscription growth in the second quarter for 2023 after its password sharing crackdown went into full effect. In addition, the streamer gained 5.9 million subscribers, in comparison to the second quarter of 2022 which saw 1.1 million. In total, Netflix said it experienced a year over year growth of 8% when looking at subscribers.
Netflix wasn’t immediately available for comment on the prospect of these physical stores.