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Consumers already get their affordable home goods, clothes, food, and nearly everything else from Walmart. Soon they may be able to get their streaming services there, too. As recent reports indicate, representatives from Walmart have met with executives from Disney, Comcast, and Paramount as the mega-retailer contemplates which platform would add the most value to its Walmart+ membership. Disney owns Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu. Comcast owns Xfinity. Paramount owns Paramount+ and Showtime.

Walmart+ memberships, which cost $12.95 per month, include free shipping on Walmart orders, free grocery deliveries, gas discounts, and a six-month free trial of Spotify Premium. Thus, the offerings already are diverse. But adding streaming services could help Walmart+ compete against Amazon Prime, which provides even more benefits, including streaming, for just a couple of dollars more per month.

This pursuit is a substantial shift from Walmart’s exit from the streaming market just a few years ago. After purchasing the independent service Vudu in 2010, it sold off the division to Fandango in 2020, allegedly because it perceived too much competition in the streaming market. Such experiences might have left Walmart a bit hesitant about reentering the streaming space on its own. Thus, the company hopes to proceed with a well-established partner that can bring in its own customers and provide its own content. At the same time, Walmart has strict policies regarding what it will offer; for example, when it first purchased Vudu, it required the service to eliminate any adult content from its platform.

So which company will partner with Walmart? That’s the literally billion dollar (if not more) question. Various sources offer different views: “It is unclear whether any of the streaming companies are inclined to reach a deal with Walmart,” according to The New York Times. But The Desk appears more willing to speculate, positing that Comcast is the best candidate, because Walmart was among the first retailers to carry Comcast’s XClass television sets. Furthermore, because Comcast currently has the fewest streaming customers, it may be more willing to accept the terms that Walmart is likely to impose on the deal. We’ll have to watch this space to see, and stream, what comes next.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why would Walmart want to partner with a streaming service?
  2. Do you think partnering with Walmart is beneficial to an existing streaming service?
  3. What added elements might make Walmart+ more valuable to customers, beyond of partnering with a streaming service?

Source: Benjamin Mullin and Brooks Barnes, “Walmart Ponders Streaming Deal with Paramount, Disney and Comcast,” The New York Times, August 9, 2022; Matthew Keys, “Walmart Explores Adding Streaming Access to Walmart Plus Memberships,” The Desk, August 9, 2022; Sarah Perez, “Walmart Is Selling its On-Demand Video Service Vudu to Fandango,” Techcrunch, April 20, 2020; David Pierce, “Walmart Is Trying to Build a Streaming Service, Again,” The Verge, August 9, 2022