Disney Tests Selling Brand Merchandise to Disney+ Subscribers

Disney+ Nov. 1 launched a promotion to allow subscribers in the United States to purchase branded merchandise early for a limited time on the shopDisney site over the holiday season.

Disney+ subscribers can visit shopDisney or the details pages of select movies, series and shorts on the streaming platform to scan QR codes to purchase merchandise before it is made available to the general public. Merchandise includes products from select movie franchises and series, including “Star Wars,” Marvel Studios’ Black Panther and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Frozen 2 and Lightyear.

The shop tab will be available to Disney+ primary profiles in the United States that have been verified as 18 and older.

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“Special access to this curated collection of merchandise for the upcoming holiday season is the latest example of the many ways we experiment with how to improve the user experience on Disney+, which includes enhancing the benefits of being a subscriber,” Alisa Bowen, president of Disney+, said in a statement.

Special products include:


Additionally, Disney+ subs will have exclusive access to shopDisney made-to-order merchandise, including new T-shirt and sweatshirt designs from Frozen 2 and Lightyear.

Crunchyroll Acquires E-Commerce Site Right Stuf

Anime distributor Crunchyroll Aug. 4 announced it has purchased anime online retailer Right Stuf to expand its e-commerce service. The deal, the terms of which are not disclosed, immediately widens Crunchyroll’s online product offering with significant extensions in the home entertainment and manga categories.

“For years, Right Stuf has been an important part of anime fandom with products, services and a shopping experience that super-serves anime collectors,” Rahul Purini, president of Crunchyroll, said in a statement.

Shawne Kleckner, CEO of Right Stuf, believes joining forces with Crunchyroll will enable the platform to accelerate and scale e-commerce opportunities for anime consumers.

“For 35 years, Right Stuf’s mission has been to connect anime fans with the products they love,” Kleckner said.

With the acquisition, Kleckner and the Right Stuf management team will be joining Crunchyroll’s “emerging businesses” unit led by Terry Li, GM of games.

Crunchyroll and parent Sony Pictures Entertainment were advised by Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, and Right Stuf was advised by Hennepin Partners and Lathrop GPM for the transaction.

Roku, Walmart Partner for E-Commerce Transactions

Roku and Walmart June 16 announced a groundbreaking partnership to make TV streaming the next e-commerce shopping destination. Walmart will be the exclusive retailer to enable streamers to purchase featured products fulfilled by Walmart directly on Roku

This pact is designed to evolve shopping beyond the QR code. The new platform aims to offer product discovery with a checkout experience, enabling purchase directly at the time of inspiration.

“We’re working to connect with customers where they are already spending time, shortening the distance from discovery and inspiration to purchase,” William White, chief marketing officer for Walmart, said in a statement.

White claims there have been few, if any, breakthroughs affording consumers the ability to purchase products via video shopping.

“By working with Roku, we’re the first to market retailer to bring customers a new [shopping] experience and seamless checkout on the largest screen in their homes — their TV,” White said.

Viewers simply press “OK” with the remote on a shoppable ad and proceed to checkout with their payment details easily pre-populated from Roku Pay, Roku’s payments platform. From there, tapping “OK” on the Walmart checkout page places the order. A Walmart purchase confirmation is then emailed with shipping, return, and support information.

“We’re making shopping on TV as easy as it is on social,” said Peter Hamilton, head of TV commerce at Roku. “For years, streamers have purchased new Roku devices and signed up for millions of subscriptions with their Roku remote. Streaming commerce brings that same ease and convenience to marketers and shoppers.”

OneView, Roku’s ad-buying platform for TV streaming, will have the capability to activate and measure the shopping ads. Additionally, marketers will be able to use Roku Brand Studio to design custom creative and branded content built for TV streaming and shopping.

Future iterations of the pilot program will look for opportunities to build deeper commerce experiences that meet customers where they are.

Fire TV Sticks Lead Record Amazon Black Friday, Cyber Weekend Sales

Amazon Nov. 30 announced that its branded Fire TV Stick streaming media device, along with third-party branded Fire TV devices, helped drive record online sales on Black Friday (Nov. 26) through the Cyber Monday (Nov. 29).

The e-commerce behemoth did not disclose actual revenue data, but did share that smart-TVs from Insignia, Toshiba and Pioneer using Fire TV, as well as all-new standalone Amazon Fire TV Omni and 4-Series HDTVs debuted No. 1 in sales on the website thus far in the holiday retail season.

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Analytics company Profitero said Amazon topped Best Buy, Target and Walmart, among 12 online retailers, for lowest prices across 15,530 products and 15 categories.

Among top-selling video game discs: Mojang’s Minecraft for Sony PlayStation 4, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s Bakugan Champions Vestroia for the Nintendo Switch console.

Amazon is extending through Dec. 5 price discounts on all Fire TV devices, including $12 off the Fire TV Stick Lite; $20 off the Fire TV Stick (3rd Gen.); $25 off the Fire TV Stick with 4K; $20 off the Fire TV Stick 4K Max; $40 off the Fire TV Cube; and $100 off the Fire TV Recast.

Analyst: Black Friday No Longer a Single-Day Event

With one initial report (Adobe) suggesting the Black Friday retail weekend saw a slowdown in total sales, official data across the long holiday weekend remains forthcoming.

One analyst contends the annual post-Thanksgiving event has expanded beyond a few days to encompass weeks, before and after the third Thursday in November. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter made a return to in-store surveillance following last year’s pandemic and found consumers increasingly shop online while still frequenting stores.

Indeed, the Black Friday weekend concludes following today’s Cyber Monday event, so coined by the National Retail Federation in 2005 as a way of promoting e-commerce. The day has now become an industry record-setter. Last year’s Cyber Monday (Nov. 30, 2020) was the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history with more than $10.7 billion spent on e-commerce. 

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“Consumers still come out on Black Friday, but they are increasingly
shopping online, particularly for consumer electronics,” Pachter wrote in a Nov. 29 note.

That said, Pachter and his team still found value assessing inventory levels ahead of Black Friday at retail, while continuing to track the depth of Black Friday deals vs. prior years both online and in stores.

Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics retail store chain, took precautions against supply chain issues to keep stores well-stocked with video games, connected TVs, and streaming media devices heading into Black Friday, according to Pachter.

“We were surprised at the how little appeared to have sold through
at big box retailers within gaming and PC peripherals this year,” he wrote.

The analyst contends that as consumers increasingly shop online, retail store inventories of select CE items remained slim compared to previous years.

“Sellthrough appeared strong for CTVs and Roku players,” Pachter wrote. “In the stores we checked, Roku players were in high demand, particularly the lower-end models and particularly the discounted 4K streaming stick.”

Roku sells its players at a steep discount in order to drive user growth, especially on its platform and The Roku Channel ad-supported streaming service. Indeed, the company marketed a $15 streaming device on Black Friday.

“We think the pandemic era accelerated direct-to-consumer selling,” Pachter wrote. “Our covered companies are all in the early stages of this, but may benefit as the gross margin upside from direct sales offsets some of the pressure from higher shipping costs this year.”

Best Buy Q3 Entertainment Revenue Growth Slows

What a difference a pandemic makes.

Best Buy Nov. 23 reported third-quarter (ended Oct. 30) comparable domestic store entertainment revenue of $549.2 million, which included a $22.5 million increase in same-store sales. That was down from a same-store sales increase of $95 million on revenue of $542.5 million in the previous-year period. The segment result, which includes products such as DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software, underscores the impact prior-year stay-at-home mandates had on the consumption of home entertainment.

Indeed, e-commerce revenue dropped more than 10% to $3.44 billion. As a percentage of total domestic revenue, online revenue decreased to approximately 31.3% of Best Buy’s $10.98 billion in revenue, compared with 35.2% of $10.85 billion in revenue last year.

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CEO Corie Barry said that despite customers returning to stores, digital sales in the quarter were still more than double pre-pandemic levels, and phone, chat and in-home sales continued to grow. She said the consumer electronics retail giant remains well positioned to sell and deliver products in the current business environment and in the future.

“During the third quarter, we reached our fastest small-package online shipping times ever as our same-day delivery was up 400% and we nearly doubled the percent of products delivered within one day compared to last year,” Barry said in a statement.

CFO Matt Bilunis said the retailer has perfected delivering CE products however the consumer wants them.

“We are committed to driving initiatives that will deliver future growth and our Q4 outlook reflects continued investments in our new membership program, technology, advertising and our health strategy,” Bilunis said.

Hulu Bows Online Shopping Platform Featuring Ugly Holiday Sweaters

Taking a page from Netflix’s consumer products playbook, Disney’s co-owned (with Comcast) streaming service Hulu has launched an online shopping platform featuring memorabilia, products and gifts related to the streamer’s original programming.

Dubbed “Shop Hulu,” the platform is debuting this month with the streamer’s annual collection of ugly holiday sweaters inspired by original series such as “Love, Victor,” animation show “Solar Opposites,” “The Great,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “Wu-Tang: An American Saga.”

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The sweaters will be available for purchase beginning Nov. 30, with 100% of the purchase price through Dec. 31 donated to charity organization Feeding America. Shop Hulu visitors receive a discount when signing up for the newsletter. Additional discounts will be available on Black Friday (Nov. 26) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 29).

In addition to sweaters, the platform is selling apparel, stickers and glassware associated with the show “Solar Opposites,” with merchandise going on sales Nov. 22. Hulu is also selling merchandise related to licensed TV shows, including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “American Horror Story” and “What We Do In The Shadows,” among others.

Netflix earlier this year launched an e-commerce platform selling merchandise related to original programs, in addition to in-store point-of-purchase displays in Target and Walmart stores.

Netflix Launching More Collectibles, International Shipping

When Netflix in June launched a branded website to facilitate consumer products marketing and e-commerce options, the platform was limited to domestic shopping. Now, Netflix.shop is shipping products worldwide as it begins (on Nov. 12) marketing the “Chilleez!,” a 12-inch pillow-like collectible available in four colors.


The pillows are aimed to replicate the default profile picture Netflix subscribers encounter when logging onto the service. The SVOD pioneer’s e-commerce site also markets merchandise related original programs such as “Squid Game,” “Sex Education” and “The Witcher,” and branded logo wear from BEAMS, among other brands.

The move comes as Netflix looks to expand beyond streaming into consumer products and video games. The streamer recently partnered with Walmart for brick-and-mortar merchandise sales, in addition to e-commerce.

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“We have an insatiable appetite for streaming, so come master the art of chill with us. And be sure to check out Netflix.shop for more updates — we can’t wait for you to see what else we have in the works 😎,” the streamer wrote in a blog post.

Sports Streamer FuboTV Launches E-commerce Platform

Online sports streaming platform FuboTV Sept. 28 announced the launch of its first e-commerce venture: Fubo Shop, an online store selling branded merchandise marketing the service and its forthcoming Fubo Sportsbook gambling venture.

Fubo Shop offers a large assortment of clothing and accessories from sweatshirts, T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts and vests, to baseball caps and hats, all customized with logos from FuboTV and Fubo Sportsbook.

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“Since our public offering on the New York Stock Exchange one year ago, consumers and retail investors have inundated us with requests for more personal ways to connect with our brand,” co-founder/CEO David Gandler said in self-serving statement. “We’re grateful for their ongoing support, and hope they enjoy the variety of new clothing and accessories options to help them show their Fubo pride.”

After launching in 2015 as a $6.99 monthly channel largely streaming soccer matches, FuboTV currently offers 90 channels for $64.99 per month, which includes 250 hours on a cloud-based DVR. The company, like the NFL, is embracing sports wagering as a significant legal revenue source. Now sports gamblers can bet on games wearing FuboTV merchandise.

Walmart Ups Q2 Revenue, Online Sales to Reach $75 Billion by End of Year

July retail sales may have slipped due to Delta variant concerns, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, but don’t tell that to Walmart.

The world’s largest retail chain Aug. 17 reported a 5.3% increase in U.S. store revenue to $98.2 billion in the second quarter, ended July 31, compared with $93.2 billion in the previous-year period. Online sales increased 6%, and are projected to reach $75 billion by the end of the year. Overall net income fell 34% to $4.28 billion, from $6.48 billion a year earlier.

One of the nation’s largest sellers of movie DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, Walmart does not break out packaged-media sales data. The company last year sold the Vudu transactional VOD platform to Comcast-owned Fandango — the latter melding it with FandangoNow under the Vudu brand name.

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“We had another strong quarter in every part of our business,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “We grew market share … we’re finding innovative ways to commercialize our data and build technology. We have a unique ecosystem of products and services designed to serve customers in broader, deeper ways.”