The Witcher was a massive television event in 2019, and its success has had a sizable ripple effect across mediums. Fans of the show have spun out to boost sales for both the book series and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt game. And now we have some specific numbers for what that looks like, thanks to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which originally debuted back in May 2015, was up 554% year-over-year in the U.S. in December 2019. During that same period, The Witcher book series sales jumped 562% in the U.S. market. NPD analyst Sartori Bernbeck notes this is evidence of how companies can thrust a relatively niche property into even bigger levels of success.
Of course, The Witcher was hardly niche in the world of gaming. Developer CD Projekt Red confirmed it had sold more than 20 million copies as of June. But even in this market, the TV show’s knock-on effect is palpable. This is true even if you take into account the The Witcher 3’s recent Switch port.
“The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was ported to the Nintendo Switch console in October 2019, just before the Netflix series premiered,” writes Bernbeck. “These combined factors caused the game to have a strong surge in sales during Q4 2019. U.S. December physical sales for the game were 554% higher than December 2018. [And it was] still 63% higher even when excluding the Nintendo Switch platform.”
Expect more brands to emulate what is happening with The Witcher 3
Bernbeck points to The Witcher as an example that other companies should follow.
“The takeaway from this success for IP holders is to keep a pulse on market trends across entertainment, and creatively explore existing IP so they can capitalize on growing interest in new categories that fit their IP,” writes Bernbeck. “Just as The Witcher has with its Netflix series.”
Not every show is going to have The Witcher ratings. But you don’t need to produce Netflix’s most-watched new show of year to see a bump.
Nintendo realized the potential for licensing its IP after the Wii U struggled to find an audience. The company opened up to more product deals like electric toothbrushes. Now, it has a movie in the works with Minions studio Illumination. It is also working on multiple Super Nintendo World theme parks around the world.
The idea is that Nintendo could see a similar boosting effect between these distinct-yet-interconnected explorations of its properties.
And if your company doesn’t have strong IP, the NPD analyst suggests looking to where Netflix and CD Projekt Red found The Witcher.
“For those looking to license IP for new content, it is important to prospect as creatively as possible and look for specialized trends in other areas of the entertainment,” writes Bernbeck. “Such as book IP that could translate strong source material into large followings.”