LOS ANGELES — After demurring on a plan to compete with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu in the subscription video on demand business, Walmart is making a push into ad-supported streaming with its Vudu transactional OTT platform.
The big-box giant, which has deep roots into the video business dating back to the halcyon days of DVD, when it was the format’s most important retailer, has formed a partnership with MGM to produce — drum roll — original series. The shows will be family-friendly and targeted to Walmart’s key consumer constituency: rural America.
They’ll be available for free streaming on Movies on Us, the ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) portion of the Vudu platform, which was launched in 2016 and currently offers about 3,125 older movie titles. It also has 262 full seasons of TV shows.
First on the production slate will be a remake of Mr. Mom, a series remake of the 1983 John Hughes-penned feature, starring Michael Keaton as a laid off Detroit auto-industry middle manager adjusting to running the show at home as his wife, Teri Garr, brings home the bread as a rising star in the ad biz.
“It’s just the beginning,” Hulu head of advertising VOD Julian Franco said in announcing the series at the Newfronts West conference in Hollywood. “It’s one that we hope will be of many. We have a pipeline of new exclusive content coming.”
MGM’s film library includes franchises such as James Bond, The Hobbit, The Pink Panther and Rocky, just to name a few titles that might be adaptable to the format. The TV library has Fame, Stargate SG-1 and Teen Wolf.
MGM owns the Epix premium network, as well as the MGM HD channel. It also owns a pay TV distributed VOD channel, Impact, focused on action dramas.
With more than 200 OTT platforms currently vying for audience worldwide, Walmart would have been entering into a fairly saturated market with an SVOD play. But AVOD seems be fertile ground for participants with the right niche. EMarketer estimates the U.S. ad spending on digital video will grow about 30% this year to $27.82 billion.