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Disney is trying to mix streaming with shopping

Disney is trying to mix streaming with shopping

Could shopping make Disney+ even more of a must-have streaming service?

The Walt Disney Company announced Tuesday that it would begin a “limited test” to determine the viability of selling themed merchandise alongside certain Disney+ shows and movies. Until next Tuesday, Disney+ subscribers will have exclusive access to a host of new products related to franchises such as “Star Wars,” “Black Panther” and “Frozen.” Items include light saber collectibles ($250 to $400) and themed apparel ($27 to $100) that will be sold in regular stores next week.

The action option is only available on Disney+ profiles in the US that have been verified as belonging to users who are 18 years of age or older. The number of Disney+ subscribers in the US is not known; Disney has said the service has about 45 million customers in North America.

The effort reflects a business reality: Disney+ has more than 150 million subscribers worldwide, up from about 115 million a year ago, but the days of easy growth are over. Disney needs to work harder to sign up new subscribers and find ways to keep current ones from canceling, especially with a possible recession on the horizon. Exclusive access to goods can be a sweetener. Another might involve perks at Disney theme parks, including early access to new rides. Disney+ subscribers have already received discounts at Walt Disney World hotels in Florida.

Access to a “curated collection of merchandise for the upcoming holiday season” is an experiment “to enhance the user experience on Disney+, which includes enhancing the benefits of being a subscriber,” Alisa Bowen, president of Disney+, said in a statement.

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Disney is also working on a separate Disney+ enhancement that it calls “next-generation storytelling.” This project aims to use data collected about fans during visits to Disney parks – which rides they ride first or repeatedly, for example – to aggregate offers on their Disney+ accounts.

The shopping function, at least for the test drive, is relatively low-tech. Next week, pages on the Disney+ app for certain shows and movies — “The Mandalorian,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Lightyear” — will notify eligible users of special access to merchandise. Those interested must open a “store” tab and then, using a camera on a separate device, scan a QR code that takes them to a gated area of ​​shopDisney, which is Disney’s primary e-commerce portal.

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