Disney to test early merchandise access for U.S. Disney+ customers

(Reuters) – U.S. subscribers to the Disney+ streaming service will be able to purchase new Star Wars lightsabers, Black Panther masks and other merchandise starting on Tuesday, a week ahead of the general public, Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) said in statement.

The company described the offering as a limited test of an additional benefit for streaming customers looking to grab coveted products created for the holiday shopping season.

Disney, Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and other companies are working to attract streaming customers amid growing competition for online viewers. The Mouse House reported roughly 152.1 million Disney+ subscriptions as of July 2, including 44.5 million in the United States and Canada. Disney will reveal its latest streaming numbers in its earnings report on Nov. 8.

With the new offering, Disney+ will give U.S. subscribers the chance to buy new products related to “The Mandalorian,” “Black Panther” and “Doctor Strange” through a dedicated page on the shopDisney.com website. Viewers can reach the page via QR codes under “Shop this Story” on the Disney+ page for a specific series or movie.

A shop tab will appear on Disney+ primary profiles for U.S. subscribers 18 and older, the company said.

U.S. Disney+ customers also will have the option to buy exclusive “Frozen 2” and “Lightyear” products.

“Special access to this curated collection of merchandise for the upcoming holiday season is the latest example of the many ways we experiment with how to improve the user experience on Disney+, which includes enhancing the benefits of being a subscriber,” Disney+ President Alisa Bowen said in a statement.

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