Even as it faces the prospect of declining subscriber growth at home, Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) could see revenue growth from another nascent source. According to Mark Mahaney, vice president and analyst at RBC Capital, the streaming service's merchandising business could earn as much as $1 billion in revenue from merchandising and intellectual copyright related to its popular television shows. "We view this as a highly reasonable step by Netflix to further promote and market its original content and other offerings," his team of analysts wrote in a note last week, adding that this was a "development that signified the coming of scale of an increasingly ubiquitous global entertainment company."

Earlier this year, the Los Gatos, California-based company put out a job posting on its site for a merchandising director to oversee its licensing and intellectual copyrights associated with its popular shows. In the ad, the company stated that it believed that "merchandising will drive meaningful show awareness/buzz with more tangible, curated ways to interact with our content." The company stated, "We want licensed merchandise to help promote our titles so they become part of the zeitgeist for longer periods of time." (See also: Netflix Reportedly Considering Merchandising.

Entertainment conglomerate The Walt Disney Company (DIS) might be a good example for Netflix. Disney has carved out a successful merchandising empire from its numerous hit shows and movie characters. Its Consumer Products and Interactive Media group earns revenue from a combination of intellectual copyrights and sales of physical products. In 2015, the group accounted for 9 percent of the company's revenue and was its highest-margin segment. (See also: Star Wars Toys: Is the Tail Wagging the Dog?)

Netflix's shows are yet to garner the kind of popularity that Disney's shows and movies have, but the service might get there sooner rather than later. With its expansion into 190 countries at the beginning of last year, Netflix has already broadened its reach. Several original shows from its stable, such as "Stranger Things" and "The Queen," are reported to be extremely popular among audiences. But the company famously avoids advertising as a revenue source. Merchandising could help it cultivate another source of revenue (besides subscriptions) to finance its ambitious spending plans. (See also: Netflix Could Head into Mid-Year Swoon.)

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