“Deep product placement”: The implications of the Nike-Netflix partnership


Nike is bringing its home workouts to the small screen. The sportswear brand is teaming up with streaming giant Netflix to bring its Nike Training Club (NTC) content to a global audience. Launched on 30 December, the offering gives Netflix members access to more that 90 NTC workouts, which are designed for viewers across all fitness levels and capabilities. There are five training programs across ten languages – with each session including multiple episodes – and more programs are due to rol

to roll out throughout the year.

According to experts, the partnership between the global powerhouses is likely to be mutually beneficial. It will enable Nike to extend the reach of its workout program while enhancing brand visibility, and provide Netflix with highly engaging content.

The Growth Activist managing director Rosanna Iacono – who previously worked in leadership roles at Nike – believes that the NTC content has a target audience of older millennials and Gen X, who use streaming services more than their younger counterparts.

She told Inside Retail that the NTC app, which launched back in 2009, was based on making exercise accessible to all. 

“You could view the Netflix deal as a way to extend the reach of an existing program through a new platform,” Iacono said.

“It is also a mutually beneficial relationship in that they are both premium brands, innovators and leaders in their respective sectors, so it also makes for prestigious co-branding for both parties.”

Senior lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology and director of knowledge enablement at The Lumery, Jason Pallant believes the partnership could target a range of people, including those who find traditional gyms intimidating.

“The last few years forced many consumers to do new things from home like ordering groceries online, or attending virtual events. Many consumers also looked [for] ways to keep active from home or with lockdowns, and some will have shifted their behaviour that way longer term,” Pallant said.

“Streaming services and Netflix particularly have struggled recently, partly due to lockdowns easing and partly due to increasing competition and choice for consumers. Original content is key, and these types of interactive workout programs are an interesting experiment for Netflix.

“For Nike, having your brand in front of many millions of Netflix subscribers is a nice boost, as is encouraging consumers who may not be frequent exercisers to be more active, and therefore potentially buy Nike gear when they do [so].”

Mining insights

With more that 223 million paid Netflix subscribers, the partnership may offer a range of opportunities for Nike. This includes access to customer data, which may be used for upcoming product and communication strategies.  

Pallant is interested in the data-sharing arrangements that may be in place between the two brands. 

“I can imagine [that] Nike would be fascinated to know who are doing their workouts, and what types, to position future products and promotions,” he said.

“Longer term it may be [interesting] to know what types of consumer segments are participating and how that relates to their viewing habits. Imagine future Nike and Netflix crossover products that were designed like your favourite shows – I’d buy those.”

Iacono believes that Nike’s strategy with its apps is to create experiences and encourage activity, with an active consumer leading to higher apparel and footwear sales. 

While she says that customer data will be carefully mined for insights, she believes that NTC’s primary function will be to maximise customer engagement.

“Nike’s content is carefully crafted to convey its brand values and attributes,” Iacono said.

“It has a very powerful effect in building that initial customer relationship well before the customer engages with other more transactional platforms or experiences.”

Cut through the noise

How far will Nike – and its competitors – delve into the commercial, content space?

According to Iacono, leading brands like Nike know that the circular economy is coming, and that continued revenue growth is dependent on other revenue streams beyond the sale of its goods.

Pointing to Nike’s acquisition of RTFKT, the launch of Nikeland on Roblox, and the recent deal with Apple to produce sports films for the Apple TV+ platform, she believes that content creation is part of a larger, revenue diversification strategy. 

“This is already happening,” she said. “In June 2022 Apple and Nike inked a multi-year deal to develop and produce sports films with Nike’s Waffle Iron Entertainment and Makeready Studios.”

Meanwhile, Pallant expects that brands like Nike will incorporate new technology, and work with streaming services in the future.

“Some of the most interesting products and services we see are the result of interesting collaborations between brands and emerging technologies,” he said.

“Nike in particular have been innovative in that way around Web3 and virtual sneakers, and streaming makes a lot of sense given its popularity and attention it gets from consumers.

“I see it [like] deep product placement – rather than paying to have characters in a show wear Nike, why not make your own show?”

He added that more brands will use streaming services, digital and virtual experiences and other technologies to engage with and reach more customers.

“It’s all about trying to cut through the noise and grab consumers’ attention,” he said.


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