Walmart had aspirations to take on Amazon, Apple and others with a streaming video service but reportedly has now bailed on those plans to focus on its current VOD service Vudu.
According to CNBC, Walmart was talking with former Epix CEO Mark Greenberg last year about launching a subscription video streaming service that would target consumers in middle America, but those discussions fizzled out. Last summer, the Wall Street Journal and Variety reported that Greenberg was indeed working with Walmart on potentially building an SVOD that would start at around an $8 per month price point.
Instead, Walmart is now placing its focus on growing Vudu, which CNBC’s Alex Sherman said could be getting “little drips and drabs” of original content to draw in more viewers.
SVOD giants like Netflix and Amazon grew their subscriber bases by licensing content from studios like Disney and WarnerMedia before placing much more emphasis on original series and films. With Disney, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia all planning their own streaming service launches in 2019 and 2020 and planning to hold back some content for their respective platforms, it’s getting harder for would-be SVOD entrants like Walmart to replicate that licensed content strategy for early growth.
But Walmart does still have Vudu, which offers consumers a platform for buying or renting movies along with a free, ad-supported streaming section. Walmart acquired Vudu in 2010.
Last year, Walmart revealed that Vudu would begin offering original content through a partnership with MGM. The shows will be exclusive to Vudu’s ad-supported platform, according to Variety.
Walmart also said it has plans to launch “shoppable” ads for its Movies On Us streaming service. Those ads would direct viewers to Walmart.com.