Netflix’s co-CEO Reed Hastings showed up for his $283 billion company’s third-quarter earnings interview on Tuesday in Squid Game tracksuit, hyping the service’s breakout hit series, which is coincidentally evolving into a big merchandising effort at Netflix. (He was also twinning with Spencer Wang, Netflix’s vice president of finance and corporate development, who wore another tracksuit to match.)
Hastings typically shows up for these quarterly recordings — a discussion of things like free cash flow and amortization — in something along the lines of a grey sweater-vest. But he’s been known to break out some silly promotional sweaters on past calls, making not-so-subtle apparel shoutouts to shows like Stranger Things and BoJack Horseman (the latter a personal fave of Hastings’).
Netflix, once notoriously tight-lipped about the viewership on its service, has been progressively dropping updates on the Squid Game phenomenon, its biggest original yet. A “mind-boggling” 142 million accounts have checked out the dark survival-competition series out of South Korea for at least two minutes, Netflix said Tuesday as part of its latest earnings report. That makes it Netflix’s most popular original ever, by a long shot. No other Netflix release has crossed the 100 million account milestone.
Squid Game also just the kind of phenom suiting Netflix’s growing consumer-products efforts. It said Tuesday that demand is “high” for merchandise catering to Squid Game’s fandom, items that “are on their way to retail now.”
Netflix is no stranger to merch, having struck deals with giant retailers like Walmart and Target as well as more-targeted companies like Sephora and Fisher-Price, all to make or sell items related to its movies and shows. Last week, Netflix and Walmart announced a new partnership to launch a Netflix hub at the retailer to sell things like Squid Game T-shirts, The Witcher plush collectibles and Stranger Things Bluetooth “cassette players.”
And in June, Netflix launched its own e-commerce store. Using Shopify, Netflix fashioned an online boutique for limited-edition items with the posturing of drop culture. The shop was also designed to be able to respond quickly whenever Netflix struck a vein with a surprise hit, something epitomized by Squid Game.
But Netflix’s own online boutique ships only the the US. For most of the world, Squid Game merch will be found in the stores of partners. Or on its earnings calls.