• Kyodo

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Streaming giant Netflix Inc. is preparing to open its first shop, directly managed by the company, in Tokyo in the first half of 2022, a senior official of the U.S. firm’s Japanese arm said Friday.

The shop, where scenes from shows and films will be recreated and related goods will be sold, will be the first of its kind in the world for Netflix, which has been seeing increased subscribers as many people stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The company is aiming to accelerate efforts to “merge the virtual world of the internet with the real world” at a rare physical store setting, the official said.

A re-created set from “The Naked Director,” a popular Netflix original drama series starring Takayuki Yamada, is set to be on display at the shop.

Since starting business in Japan in 2015, Netflix has become the leading company in subscription-based, flat-rate streaming services in the country, with about a 20% market share in 2020, according to a private research firm.

Netflix now has about 5 million paid subscribers in Japan, while its total streaming customers worldwide stood at some 208 million at the end of March, with those in North America accounting for the most, according to a market research firm.

Netflix is also considering an exhibit at the store detailing how it introduces and recommends programs to viewers based on artificial intelligence analysis.

In May, the company released T-shirts and miscellaneous goods sporting its logo that were developed in collaboration with Japanese fashion apparel retailer Beams Co. Sales of the products at Beams shops exceeded expectations.

While exploring business opportunities in the post-pandemic era, Netflix said it came to the conclusion that it is necessary to increase exposure to customers in a real world setting for the company to continue growing in the Japanese market.

“Opening amusement facilities is a future option, too,” said the executive of the Japan unit.

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