A few weeks ago, Nike and Netflix announced a new partnership that saw the streamer bring onboard several Nike Training Club classes. Per Techcrunch:
The streaming service will release a total of 30 hours of exercise sessions in two separate batches. The programs, which include workouts for all fitness levels, will be available in multiple languages on all Netflix plans.
The first batch of fitness classes will launch on December 30, with the second batch releasing in 2023. A total of 45 episodes will be part of the first batch, which will include the following classes: Kickstart Fitness with the Basics, Two Weeks to a Stronger Core, Fall in Love with Vinyasa Yoga, HIIT & Strength with Tara, and Feel-Good Fitness. Once the classes are released, Netflix users will be able to search “Nike” to access them
Leverage what already exists
There are several things already in play that support the launch of this new fitness program. First, as a global household name, Netflix doesn’t need to spend a lot of money to advertise the brand and bring the new service to consumers. Everybody knows the iconic black & red logo. Second, with the existing infrastructure that enables streaming from millions of users, Netflix has more than enough experience and capacity to add the new fitness content to the mix. Their engineers will just need to append a few lines of code to their code base. Third, even though the concept of online fitness classes is not new, the pandemic, Peloton and Apple Fitness+ made it popular again. More and more people are receptive to the idea of working out at home and not having to drive to a gym, especially in unfriendly weather. Netflix’s fitness content fits right into that trend. Last but not least, to have a nice viewing experience at home, many Netflix subscribers invest in a great TV. Hence, all Netflix subscribers need to work out at home are motivation, some space and probably a mat.
A clever way to retain subscribers?
Streamers constantly need new content. Subscribers will churn if they don’t see new shows or movies that they like. To Netflix, it’s even more important to keep churn low than to other streamers. The likes of Warner Bros Discovery or Disney bring their movies to theater and generate millions, if not dozens of millions, of dollars in revenue before putting those IPs online. Despite launching ads, Netflix gets most of their revenue from subscription fees. As a result, they continuously crave for new content to keep subscribers staying and Netflix executives obviously hope that fitness classes are an inexpensive way to grow the library.
While the logic behind this collaboration between the two great brands is sound, I remain doubtful of the impact on Netflix’s churn and financials. Non-subscribers are unlikely to become members just for the fitness content. To those that already subscribe to the streamer, Nike Training Classes will not sway them one way or another. There are certainly a few on the fence that may stick around because they find more utility from Netflix, but that group should constitute only a small percentage of their subscriber base.
A weak proposition – A disconnect with the brand positioning
What makes Apple Fitness+ a success is that it fits right into Apple’s overarching brand positioning. Apple believes in leaving the world a better place than they found it. They do so by using hardware and software to make consumers’ personal lives better. And they happen to make a great fitness program paired with iPhone and Apple Watch. You see, it’s a compelling story that people can relate to.
It’s not the same with Netflix. When folks think of Netflix, they think of entertainment and binge-watching. Netflix and Chill is a real cultural thing. Fitness just doesn’t gel with that image. There is no obvious connection between the two concepts. And don’t take my word for it. Here is what Netflix said in the announcement:
It’s not always easy to motivate yourself to exercise, but the option to feel the burn and then directly transition into one of your favorite shows does have a certain appeal
The proposition is weak and unconvincing. Netflix isn’t selling the why. They are selling a feature and consumers are not appealed by features. Be honest, when you read that line from Netflix’s marketing team, are you inspired? The small number of classes indicates this is primarily a test from Netflix to gauge consumer interest. But even if the test yields positive results, the company needs to rethink its brand positioning. What is the why or the identity behind all the entertainment, games, fitness and other content? That question is not easy to answer and right now, it’s not answered.
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