The impact of streaming services on the toy industry • The Toy Book

It’s been almost 15 years since Netflix began offering its subscribers a library of online video content for a flat monthly fee, introducing a new way to watch TV and movies that would eventually eclipse – or more accurately, erase – his existing DVD. -mail rental service. Today, streaming content is still a hot topic. From the ever-growing number of platforms vying for the eyes (and dollars) of viewers to a tidal wave of thorny questions about the impact of day-to-day movie releases, this now integral part of our entertainment consumption is complex, multifaceted, and always evolving.

One of the many facets is the impact that streaming platforms have on consumer products and, in particular, on toys. It is a fact that the number of streaming viewers among children continues to grow, as the number of weekly linear viewers decreases.

According to data from The Insights Family, the normal weekly TV audience in August declined for all children aged 3 to 12 compared to the same time last year. The decline was most pronounced for children aged 6 to 9, who saw a decline of 29%. Although many factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, may have influenced this decline, all age groups also saw an increase in Netflix’s weekly audience from year to year: + 3% for 3-5 year olds, + 14% for 6 year olds. 9 and + 18% for 10-12 year olds.

And with this increase in viewing comes an increase in spending. Family Insights also tracked the likelihood of children purchasing licensed toys relative to their viewing habits: Across all age groups (3-5, 6-9, and 10-12), Disney + viewers were more likely than average to make both television and movie-inspired purchases. The most notable influence was for the older age group, who were 21% more likely to buy movies and 27% more likely to buy TVs than average – perhaps a testament to the strong shows. of consumer products surrounding Star Wars and Marvel content, which is available to watch on Disney +. The Insights family also tracked this data for Netflix viewers and found an increased likelihood of buying movies and TV shows among 3-5 year olds and 6-9 year olds. For 10-12 year olds, Netflix viewers were 13% more likely to buy TVs, but 3% less likely to make movie purchases.

A photo from ‘Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Adventure’ and a toy inspired by the special | Source: Hasbro / eOne / The Toy Book

For the record, Rebecca Harvey, executive vice president of global brand management for family brands at Hasbro’s eOne, recognizes the importance of streaming in expanding existing intellectual property (IP). EOne Preschool Series PJ Masks and Peppa Pig both started out as traditional TV launches, but have since found streaming homes on platforms in the United States, including Disney + (PJ Masks), Paramount + (Peppa Pig) and Netflix (PJ Masks). According to Harvey, Hasbro has really moved into the streaming space in recent years, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated an existing shift towards digital consumption.

An example Harvey gave for the impact of streaming is the increase in brand affinity, exposure, and revenue when Peppa Pig launched on various streaming platforms in China. In fact, Peppa Pig was all the rage on streaming platforms in several territories this summer. “I’m confident this will create deeper engagement, affinity and more sales,” Harvey said. “New kids will come into the brand, and when there is a need for a magazine, book or toy, maybe for their own vacation, Peppa will be a priority. “

However, she points out that just because Peppa is the case doesn’t mean all brands work the same. She says the most important factor is to keep providing fresh content and getting it out to families through a variety of mediums. For Hasbro and eOne, that includes everything from toys and music videos to digital games and event content.

“What drives sales is a mix of content that allows kids and parents to move from one brand element to another, then to another seamlessly, relentlessly engaging fans with one. intellectual property that consistently delivers on a trusted brand promise, ”she said. said.

A photo from Masters of the Universe: Revelation and a He-Man action figure inspired by the series. | Source: Mattel / Netflix

Mattel, meanwhile, has been looking into creating content for streaming platforms in recent years, most notably with the debut this summer of Masters of the Universe: Revelation on Netflix, which was the platform’s # 1 children’s show in the US during its opening weekend. According to Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Steve Totzke, the company has already seen a positive impact on toy sales since this launch. Mattel will continue to roll out Masters of the Universe content with the series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which gives the brand a new visual style for a younger audience. Mattel has also launched a new Barbie Netflix special, Barbie: Big City Big Dreams, with accompanying product on September 1.

Totzke also says that streaming platforms have been a big factor for many of Mattel’s long-standing licensing partners, like Universal Studios’ Jurassic World franchise. The jurassic park and Jurassic World the movies have spent time on several major streaming services, while the animated series Jurassic World: Cretaceous Camp continues to bring brand new content to Netflix.

“One of Mattel’s goals with our own intellectual property and partner properties is to move from a launch event to an ongoing event, and these streaming platforms help facilitate that goal more significantly,” Totzke said. .

The strengthening – or in some cases, relaunching – of classic brands is an additional point at which streaming platforms and consumer products can intersect. For example, Walt Disney Studios’ entire catalog of classic animated films left “The Vault” and became available to US consumers for the first time with the launch of Disney + in November 2019. This year, Disney launched the Ultimate Princess Celebration, a toy and product-heavy celebration of its princess characters, who are arguably more accessible to children than ever before.

ViacomCBS, and in particular its Nickelodeon team, have also seen the impact of streaming on traditional brands. According to Dion Vlachos, executive vice president of hardlines and retail for ViacomCBS Consumer Products, the older shows that have recently landed on major streaming services have seen increased demand for products, including Avatar the Last Airbender, SpongeBob SquarePants, iCarly, and Blue indices.

Some Avatar: The Last Airbender inspired products that have been released since the series landed on Netflix last year. | Source: McFarlane Toys / QMx / The Toy Book

“We’re seeing a correlation between digital-native fans enjoying their favorite shows in episode clusters and then searching for products online to celebrate their fandom,” Vlachos said.

However, finding the right way to predict and prepare for consumer demand for streaming content can be a major challenge. Totzke also names the series Disney + The Mandalorian as an example of the impact streaming content can have on toys. Mattel’s The Child plush toy was the largest and best-selling pre-sale in the company’s history, and Totzke says Mattel is currently expanding its line to reflect consumer interest in the series and its characters. However, at the time of The Mandalorian Initially debuting in 2019, the secrecy surrounding fan-favorite character The Child (now known as Grogu) meant that toys and other consumer goods featuring the character were not available immediately after the start of the game. show, despite an incredibly sudden and strong consumer demand.

In fact, Vlachos says that ViacomCBS is currently working on squeezing its product development timelines to meet the demand for popular streaming content, including delivering on-demand merchandise and strategically planning long-term categories to be able to post. products shortly after the shows arrived on streaming platforms. .

Matching lead times with demand isn’t the only challenge when it comes to developing toys for streaming content, compared to linear TV. As Harvey explains, when the content decreases at the same time, it does not give time for product demand to grow at a rapid rate. “Once audiences are done with the content, they’ll just move on before the next season is ready,” she said. “We’ve seen the launch of new intellectual property with successful consumer product strategies paired with a streaming strategy, but it still hasn’t been proven overall. “

The exact impact of streaming platforms on toy sales and development is still an evolving reality. As ViacomCBS assesses its product development timeline, Hasbro is testing and researching exactly how relaunching older content on streaming platforms impacts the success of consumer products. Its internal research team purchases consumer data, and the branding and marketing teams monitor the competition alongside ongoing brand health studies and audience research.

Throughout this learning process – and despite changes in the way children consume media – Harvey says the priority must remain on creating quality content. “What’s critical right now, when viewers have more choice than ever, will enter a property and leave faster than before, is solid intellectual property,” she says. “For us, whether we are creating toys or creating content or toys attached to content, the pilot is always IP first. “

And now, as seen in a wide variety of shows and films in development, many toy companies are using their original IP addresses to inspire entertainment content – much of which is sure to find its way. path to streaming platforms, adding yet another layer of complexity to the streaming-meets-toys landscape. In Harvey’s opinion, this is an exciting development, but one that should remind toy makers that toys themselves are essential.

“I think this will help increase fandom and affinity, ”she says. “But let’s not forget that toys are just as important to growing up as the entertainment we watch. Bridging the gap between the two is powerful.


This article was originally published in October edition of the toy book. Click here to read the full issue!

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