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Walmart entertains streaming partnerships

Aug 10, 2022
Animated gif of skinny arms in a suit struggling to raise a barbell with an amazon logo on one side and a walmart logo on the other

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Walmart adding streaming content to its arsenal could spell more heated competition in retail, as the sector increasingly turns to diversifying its offerings to drive membership growth.

Why it’s the BFD: Such a move could position Walmart as a stronger challenger to Amazon as they go toe to toe.

Driving the news: Walmart is in talks with major media companies, including Disney, Paramount and Comcast, about bundling their streaming services with the retail giant, the New York Times reports.

Context: Walmart is looking to shore up its membership bundle, Walmart+, to draw customers beyond its bricks-and-mortar stores.

  • Walmart+ currently offers free shipping and delivery, no order minimums, and savings on gas, as well as a free six-month subscription to Spotify Premium.
  • The big-box retailer has already heavily invested in e-commerce and diversified its services from advertising to health to financial.
  • Walmart acquired adtech company Thunder and telehealth platform MeMD last year.

Between the lines: Sound familiar? Just a few weeks ago, Amazon inked plans to acquire primary care organization One Medical.

Yes, and: Amazon's web services, advertising and entertainment businesses — not retail — are driving the majority of its growth, per its most recent earnings call.

Flashback: This wouldn't be Walmart's first attempt at getting into streaming, our Media Deals colleague Tim Baysinger writes.

  • Back in 2018, the retailer had planned to launch a streaming service using its video platform Vudu that would be aimed at Middle America, before dropping those plans a year later. It would sell Vudu to Fandango in 2020 for an undisclosed price.

What we're watching: Walmart releases Q2 earnings next week.

The bottom line: We won't call Walmart and Amazon an apples-to-apples comparison, but it's clear legacy retailers are taking a page out of the Jeff Bezos book.

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