Walmart has held discussions with major media companies about including streaming entertainment in its membership service, according to three people familiar with the conversations, as part of an effort to expand its relationship with customers outside of its traditional stores.
In recent weeks, executives from Paramount, Disney and Comcast have spoken with Walmart, People said, as the retailer wonders which movies and TV shows would add the most value to its membership package, called Walmart+. People spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.
It’s unclear whether any of the broadcasting companies are inclined to strike a deal with Walmart. Disney operates streaming services via Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu; Comcast owns the peacock streaming service; And Paramount runs the Paramount+ and Showtime services.
A Walmart+ membership, which costs $12.95 per month, includes free shipping on orders and discounts on fuel. It also includes a free six-month subscription to the Spotify Premium music service.
A Walmart spokesperson declined to comment.
As the flow field gets more crowdedThe biggest media companies have turned to giants in other industries to find new subscribers. Wireless providers like Verizon and T-Mobile have struck deals to offer their customers free or discounted subscriptions to streaming services like Disney+ or Paramount+ as an added incentive to sign up. Media companies in turn receive an influx of new customers whose subscriptions are supported by their wireless partners.
The reasoning is similar to Walmart, according to two people familiar with the company’s strategy. The retailer is increasingly looking to build its relationship with its customers outside of its big box stores, especially given the dominance of Amazon.com’s Prime membership program.
Walmart, with thousands of stores visited by millions of customers each week, has long been the center of gravity in the entertainment sector. The retailer’s ability to sell music, movies and merchandise has made the company’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark, a destination for studio heads, musicians and entrepreneurs looking to win the company’s favor.
As the consumption of music, movies and TV shows shifts online, Walmart has explored various strategies to retain its media priority, including buying a streaming service called Vudu and investing in Eko, an interactive video company.
But the retailer has struggled to compete with some of its rivals in the costly video streaming business. Walmart sold Vudu to Comcast affiliate Fandango in 2020, and the service has so far failed to meet as much demand as its biggest competitor, according to streaming data firm Parrot Analytics.
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