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Advocacy Groups Call for Regulatory Scrutiny of Walmart’s Vizio Acquisition

Walmart

Several privacy and antitrust groups are reportedly calling for rigorous regulatory scrutiny of Walmarts planned $2.3 billion acquisition of smart television maker Vizio.

The collection of 19 advocacy organizations, including the American Economic Liberties Project, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Public Citizen, have directed a letter to the leaders of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Seeking Alpha reported Monday (March 4).

The groups’ primary concern is the potential for this merger to intensify issues surrounding market concentration, data hoarding and consumer privacy, according to the report.

This apprehension stems from Walmart’s ambition to expand its foothold in digital advertising through Vizio’s established network, the report said.

The groups said in their letter that the acquisition could significantly enhance Walmart’s ability to extract, monetize and exploit consumer data, raising flags over privacy and the further consolidation of Walmart’s market power to the detriment of the competitive landscape and, ultimately, consumers, per the report.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) voiced concerns about the potential deal in February, drawing parallels between Walmart’s strategy and Amazon’s aggressive expansion playbook, according to the report.

Through a Feb. 23 post on X (formerly Twitter), Warren said there is a need for examination of the deal by regulators, underlining the potential for it to amplify Walmart’s dominance across several sectors, from retail to entertainment and advertising, the report said.

Walmart and Vizio announced Feb. 20 that they entered into an agreement for Walmart to acquire Vizio for $2.3 billion, subject to regulatory clearance and other customary closing conditions.

The companies said the deal would enable Walmart to enhance its media business, Walmart Connect, by combining Vizio’s SmartCast Operating System with Walmart’s reach and capabilities.

Walmart and its affiliate Sam’s Club have been selling the Vizio brand for years, but the potential acquisition appears to be less about hawking flatscreens and more about enabling Walmart to sell ads through the streaming services featured on Vizio products, PYMNTS reported Feb. 21.

It could also fortify Walmart+, the retail giant’s subscription service, by offering Walmart an additional avenue to gather revenue and data from consumers.