After largely neglecting its digital movie and TV transactional platform, Vudu, since acquiring it 2010, Walmart is trying to make up ground and become a relevant playing in video streaming.
According to reports in AdAge and Bloomberg, Walmart is in discussion with HBO, Showtime, Starz and operators of other OTT platforms, looking at the possibility that Vudu might broker these platforms through Vudu.
Walmart isn’t confirming this. The reports come a week after Walmart announced a deal with MGM to produce original content for Vudu’s ad-supported free-to-consumer sub-platform, Movies On Us, with the first title being a remake of the 1983 MGM film “Mr. Mom.”
Amid that announcement, it was widely reported that Walmart was going to eschew earlier thoughts on entering the subscription video on demand market.
With Netflix, Amazon and Hulu owning a stranglehold on the SVOD market, and little unclaimed customer share available in markets like North America, Walmart might be wise to hold off on that one.
However, Amazon alone has carved out a niche in brokering ready-made platforms like HBO Now and CBS All Access through its Channels marketplace. Anecdotal buzz about Channels has been solid, and Amazon executives—and their content parters—rave about the performance of the marketplace. Still, Amazon—which claimed around 160 Channels content partners over the spring—hasn’t released much in the way of concrete sales and customer metrics for Channels, creating the impression that there might be plenty of room in the a la carte distribution market for a player like Walmart.
Certainly, as the largest DVD retailer during the heyday of the disc format, Walmart has the relationships it needs with media companies. And it appears to be tapping those. According to AdAge, Vudu has finally begun reporting to Scott McCall, the executive in charge of Walmart’s entertainment business at its Bentonville, Ark. headquarters.
It was all the way back in 2010 that Walmart acquired Vudu, an online destination to rent and buy digital movie and TV shows. Walmart’s last major announcement for Vudu, before the MGM original content deal, was the creation of Movies on Us back in 2016.