Report: Walmart considering its own streaming service aimed at middle of Netflix-dominated market

Contributed by
Jan 19, 2021, 12:50 PM EST (Updated)

We’re not sure what kind of possibilities this could open up -- perhaps a virtual greeter welcoming you through digital sliding doors upon startup -- but Walmart reportedly is thinking about throwing its cap into the digital streaming fray. 

Multiple media outlets are picking up on a story first reported by The Information, citing anonymous sources who claim the big-box retailer could make an insurgency into the digital entertainment sphere.

The Arkansas-based chain, the report suggests, may be looking to throw its sizable brand heft (and its bargain-basement price point, of course) behind a streaming platform to capture from Netflix and other established services some of the entertainment dollars it’s no doubt lost in the recent past, as fewer and fewer customers walk out of its brick-and-mortar stores with DVDs and Blu-rays. 

Could we one day see a Walmart Studios that churns out original content to rival the Stranger Things set? This early in the game, answers to some basic questions are hard to come by. It’s not known whether Walmart would seek to cultivate original, in-house content to entice new subscribers, nor whether it would rely solely on licensing agreements (and, perhaps, its market-penetrating reach) to align only existing films and TV shows for the platform.

One motivating factor behind the possible move could be Walmart’s perceived value to brand-loyal customers who identify with the chain’s working-class reputation. Brands like Amazon and Netflix, the report suggests, “are seen as more popular with people on the East and West Coasts of the U.S.,” leaving a gap in middle America that Walmart, at least in theory, could attempt to fill. 

Another factor could be Walmart’s past reliance on heavily mainstream Blu-ray fare -- much of it hailing from the box-office-topping genre corner of the entertainment universe -- to move physical media.

The report pegs Walmart’s potential monthly service fee at the low, low price of $8, a rate it could accomplish, in part, by breaking from its competition and embedding advertising on its platform. As of now, Walmart already sells per-purchase digital entertainment through its Vudu brand. Vudu recently acquired Movies on Us, which operates on a free, ad-based model, according to Variety.

The report indicates Walmart is still weighing whether to move forward with the idea, but if it does, it could enter the market at a price that undercuts all the major players, even as more and more content providers like DC and Disney prepare to roll out their own platforms. 

As the SVOD world gets ever more crowded, though, is there any price low enough to lure you to yet another streaming subscription? Let us know what, if anything, it would take to get you through Walmart’s virtual doors.